Thousands of San Francisco's famous sea lions now calling the Oregon Coast home after their mysterious disappearance from San Francisco's famous Pier 39.
Marine experts now believe the sea mammals headed 500 miles north to the Sea Lion Caves near Florence, beginning in October, about the same time San Francisco's population began to dwindle.
Pier 39 is well known for the sea lions that crowd its docks. But those docks are now empty - and the El Nino weather pattern is likely to blame, scientists believe.
San Francisco Bay's waters have warmed during El Nino, prompting the sea lions to head north for cooler climes and more abundant food sources. It seems they've found plenty of both near Florence, where locals report more than 10 times the usual number of sea lions.
"Normally in that area we see about 330 to 400 sea lions," said Dan Harkins, general manager of the Sea Lion Caves. "At this point in time we've had numbers ... of up to 3,000 to 4,000."
The sea lions will do well in their new home, biologists predicted, because of a plentiful food resource available along the Oregon Coast. However, some think the sea lions may migrate south in June, when breeding season begins off the southern California coast.