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Point 13 - Marine Sanctuary Chart, Shell Collection & Sea Lions

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Point 13Here we have California Sea Lions hauled out on the crossbeams below. How do they get up there, can anybody guess? Basically, they leap up out of the water, plant their front flippers like arms and hands on the crossbeam and swivel around on top.

Though they can spend much of their time in the water, they need places to haul out and rest, sleep, and mate. They naturally haul out on offshore rocks like the one over at Lighthouse Point. But they will use anything human made just as handily, like buoys, docks, boats, and wharves.

These are California sea lions and are classed in the family pinniped, for "winged feet." There is one other common seen pinniped in the area, the harbor seal. You can often see harbor seals swimming around the Wharf but you won't see any on the crossbeams here with the sea lions. That is because sea lions and harbor seals have different arraignments of flippers. Sea lions are much more flexible with rotating rear flippers that allows them to walk up rocks and very long powerful front flippers they can use like legs. To swim, they use these big front flippers to virtually fly though the water.

Harbor seals are more sausage shaped, with short stubby flippers; with them they "wriggle" out of the water on sloping beaches or low lying rocks. Mature harbor seals are smaller than sea lions and often have polka dot patterns like a Dalmatian dog. They also have no ear flaps while sea lions do.

Here we have a display chart of the Marine Sanctuary, a treatment of other marine mammals in the Sanctuary, and some examples of benthic shellfish found around the Wharf. There are 26 marine mammal species found in the Marine Sanctuary, including whales, dolphins, and fur seals. Harbor porpoises are almost always found nearby and pods of bottlenose dolphins often swim by in springtime.

The sandy bottom around the Wharf supports a rich diversity of shellfish like surfclams, mussels, scallops, venuses, littlenecks, and several kinds of crabs.

This kiosk has a history of its own. It is one of two that were located on Pacific Avenue downtown before the 1989 earthquake. The matching one is soon to go up in the commons stage area.

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Last updated: 6/30/2009 4:47:56 PM