Update: It looks like I got just about every detail of this story wrong. See comments for a slew of corrections from Wharfinger Hedley Prince. Hey, it happens to the best of us sometimes. :D
The mystery of the missing sea lions has been solved!
A couple weeks ago I wrote about the disappearance of hundreds of sea lions who usually occupy the docks at San Francisco's Pier 39. The sea lions, as many as 1,500 at a time, would sun themselves on the docks but started showing up in lower and lower numbers until finally none came back. Officials were puzzled and at a loss for the reason for the mass exodus.
They're blaming (or crediting, depending on your point of view) a dog.
SF Weekly reports that the sea lions took off after being harassed by a homeless fisherman's dog. Daniel K. (they're not sharing his last name because technically it's illegal to chase marine mammals with dogs) claims that his dog enjoyed barking at and chasing the sea lions while going out for a walk. After he spent a few days around the piers fishing for crabs the number of sea lions dropped to zero.
After Daniel K. and his dog left town, the sea lions started returning. Port of San Francisco wharf master Hedley Prince would like to start using dogs to keep the sea lions away but can't because doing so would be a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. For now he's stuck using simple (and seemingly ineffective) barricades.
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