SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — After going missing for several weeks, the famed sea lions that make their home on San Francisco’s Pier 39 have returned.

In late June, the sea lions left their perch on the floating docks. No one really knows exactly where they went, but marine biologists believe they went south to mate. Most sea lion pups are born on the Channel Islands off Southern California in June.

Word spread quickly about the return of the sea lions, as Pier 39 was packed with visitors on Thursday.

“I love to see the sea lions. This is probably the 10th time I’ve seen them, I come out here on business,” Bill Thomason, a visitor from New Mexico told KPIX 5. “I’m glad I didn’t miss them because I was really excited about bringing my family to see them for the first time.”

Sea lions have made the docks at Pier 39 their home for nearly 25 years. The marine mammals first took over the docks shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

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