Popular San Francisco swimming cove closed after marine mammal attacks

Featured image: A sea lion rests on a dock. (photo by Cheryl Landes)

Update on December 25, 2017: The cove is open again. Park officials advise all swimmers that marine mammals are wild animals in their natural habitat. If you see any while swimming, allow plenty of space. Never approach a wild animal!


In the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Aquatic Park Cove near Ghiradelli Square is a popular place for tourists to watch the harbor seals and sea lions swim and sleep on the docks. The cove also attracts locals and triathletes who like to swim in the brisk waters.

Now, there’s trouble. On Friday, December 15, the National Park Service closed Aquatic Park Cove to swimming after three swimmers were attacked by marine mammals in five days. Victims report they were bitten by either a harbor seal or sea lion. It isn’t clear whether the same animal is responsible for all of the attacks.

All swimmers survived the attacks. One swimmer did not require treatment, another was treated and released, and the third is in serious condition at a Bay Area hospital.

According to today’s reports in the SF Gate and Washington Post, Aquatic Cove Park would reopen on Monday, December 18, but the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park‘s webpage states that the closure is in effect until December 20.

Park officials are investigating and developing a safety plan.

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