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San Francisco Celebrates Sea Lion Day!

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, January 15, 2021 / -- An year ago, thirty hand-painted sea lion statues made their debut along the San Francisco waterfront as part of the Aquarium of the Bay’s Sea Lions In San Francisco Program, marking their 30 years on PIER 39.

“Aquarium of the Bay’s Sea Lions in San Francisco is the largest public STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) program in California, an initiative that promotes the convergence of science and art in education” said George Jacob, President & CEO of Aquarium of the Bay who envisioned this project in 2018. “Each statue has a QR code that reads the artists statement and the environmental message that calls for protecting and conserving the marine bio-diversity in the San Francisco Bay”. Mayor London Breed launched the event on January 16, 2020 proclaiming it the Sea Lion Day in San Francisco! Illustrated by Bay Area artists and selected by a jury drawn from SF Environment, Pier 39, Aquarium of the Bay and Golden Gates Parks Conservancy, each six-foot-tall fiberglass statue serves as a life-sized reminder of the sea lion takeover that occurred just after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The embedded Vutag multi-lingual messages warn of the hazards threatening the habitat of the now-endangered marine mammals, from ocean acidification, sea faring vessels, fishing nets, micro-plastics and PCB pollution, to name a few.

Each sea lion statue commemorating each year of their presence on the pier marking the path for a touristy, albeit educational jaunt through San Francisco. Every sculpture tells a unique story. One sea lion, covered in swirling anchovies and octopus tentacles, represents the animal’s favorite snacks. Doodled with San Francisco landmarks, another depicts a tour of the city. Another sea lion, adorned with California poppies and Franciscan wallflowers, honors the wildlife native to the Bay Area, sending a broader message about the importance of local conservation and sustainability. Mottled in a blue terrazzo pattern, a closer look at artist Lisa Long’s statue reveals surfers swimming in a sea of plastic. Yi Len Pei’s design reflects a surprising encounter she had with a little boy on Monterey Beach, who picked up garbage that had washed ashore as he played in the sand. "Such an innocent moment is exactly what I am trying to capture in this work — that conservation and fun can co-exist," wrote Pei.

"The Port is proud to host the sea lion installation all along the waterfront," said Elaine Forbes, the Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco. "We love seeing the majestic marine mammals in the water and are looking forward to seeing the artistic renderings dot the waterfront."

Aquarium of the Bay’s Sea Lions in San Francisco will remain along the San Francisco Waterfront and at Aquarium of the Bay for a very limited amount of time but there is a new way to see the statues via a GoCar San Francisco Tour available With thousands of school children turning in mini painted sealions, the project has gained attention across the United States and overseas.

From water-bottles, hoodies, ball-caps to jackets and designer Sea Lion Face Masks, visit the Aquarium’s Eco-Store!

Vicki DeWitt
Aquarium of the Bay
+ 14156235312
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