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Iconic sea lions return to San Francisco docks

The sea lions that have become an entertaining tourist attraction and staple of San Francisco's Pier 39, are finally returning to the City by the Bay, after mysteriously vanishing for several months.

The friendly creatures, about 1,700 of which had piled onto the docks early last fall, suddenly departed in November, leaving behind only a few stragglers, USA Today reports.

While the animals usually come and go as the please, venturing into the Channel Islands to breed and birth their young, their prolonged absence from Pier 39 over the past several months has been a topic of interest.

It's a relief to tourists, as well as marine biologists, that the sea lions have returned.

Ryan and Wylie Geldert, two sightseers visiting San Francisco from Australia, said that they stopped by Pier 39 three times during their week in the city, hoping to catch a glimpse of the affable animals which have adorned local post cards for years.

"The sea lions are pretty famous," Ryan Geldert told the news source. "We would have been disappointed not to see them."

The iconic creatures first appeared on the pier in 1989.
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