Few local news stories in recent memory have attracted as much international attention as the abrupt vanishing act pulled by the popular sea lions of Pier 39, who this fall deserted the docks where for decades they were wont to haul out and bask in the attention of tourists.
All sorts of explanations
have been advanced for the animals' disappearance, including changing weather patterns and a fluctuation in their food supply. Meanwhile, not everyone on the waterfront is exactly inclined to wring their hands over the departure of these blubbery marine mammals -- their penchant for occasionally biting swimmers and distinctive smell turned off more than a few locals, particularly once they began to colonize Hyde Street Pier.
Now, no less authoritative a news outlet than The Times
of London has suggested that the sea lions may have undertaken a much more ambitious colonization project. An article published today on the newspaper's Web site dares to ask what many of us have wondered all along: Have the sea lions of San Francisco departed on an interstellar journey?
The story itself is unremarkable; its distinction lies in the headline
: "So long and thanks for all the fish -- sea lions vanish from Fisherman's Wharf." For those uninitiated in the works of Douglas Adams, this is a reference to the British author's delightful Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
series. "So long and thanks for all the fish" is the last message delivered to humankind by the dolphins of Earth before they bail on the blue planet, which is about to be destroyed.
So -- have the ever-wily sea lions deserted the world in anticipation of some cataclysm of which the rest of us are as yet unaware? The predicted end of the world in 2012 is still a ways off. Our guess is that they were just really, really disappointed with Avatar
.Sea lion photo by mikebaird. UFO photo by SantaRosa OLD SKOOL