As the temperatures begin to heat up in Northern California, seas lions are swimming upstream from the San Francisco Bay into the city of Sacramento through the Sacramento River chasing prey. The pack of sea lions have been spotted sunbathing in Old Town Sacramento in numerous videos.
A popular video posted to the Sacramento Reddit page shows three sea lions calmly sunbathing on a wharf on the Sacramento Delta, not far from the Tower Bridge.
Sea lions have been seen swimming up this far north in the Sacramento since the early 2000’s and have cause issues with local fishermen and wildlife authorities. Sea lions are carnivores, eating such water creatures as salmon, sardine, mackerel and squid. A pair of sea lion attacks last December sent two Bay Area swimmers to the hospital.
The sea lions look cute as they sunbathe on cement slabs in Sacramento, but officials warn the public to keep your distance, as they are still wild animals. Here is the message from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
“Feeding or trying to feed them is harmful and illegal, because it changes their natural behaviors and makes them less wary of people and vessels. They learn to associate humans with an easy meal and change their natural hunting practices—for example, they take bait catch directly off fishing gear. Sometimes they fall victim to retaliation (such as shooting) by frustrated boaters and fishermen.”
Sea lion populations have skyrocketed since protections were put in place to stop hunting for them in the 1940’s. In the 1940’s there were under 1,000 in Northern California. In the 1970’s, it’s estimated there were up to 50,000 in the area.
As populations grow, sea lions will migrate to find more food. And although it’s not the sea lion show you’re likely to see at San Francisco’s Pier 39, it’s still a sight to behold