The pier is home to many marine animals, but the most popular animal that resides there is the California sea lion. The sea lions started to migrate to the floats provided by the pier after the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. Because the bay is much shallower and safer near the pier, compared to the small islands that can be found around the Bay, the sea lions began using it as their permanent place of residence. An astounding 1,700 sea lions visited Pier 39 in November of 2009, which forced the addition of six new floats to accommodate the growing number of sea lions that stop at the pier. The Bay and specifically Pier 39 has become a home for marine research, including the Sea Lion Center, which is dedicated to educating visitors on the habits and life of the California sea lion.
The entirety of the Embarcadero is lined with stores and shops that are mostly tourist traps, but also include local shops where amazing deals can be found on a multitude of items. Right next to Pier 39 is Fisherman's Wharf, which is San Francisco's premier location for sea food. Food is brought in fresh from the Bay daily and is served fresh and fairly cheap. A quick walk from the Pier includes the Ghirardelli Square, one of the biggest chocolate producing companies in the United States, which can make for some fantastic experiences for your taste buds. There are many reasons why Pier 39 has been one of the top attractions in San Francisco for the last few decades since it opened up.