Mercury News: Forget Pier 39: Harbor seals find spot in East Bay, August 10, 2016


Late last year, more than three dozen harbor seals lounging on a crumbling, wooden dock threatened to derail progress on a new $50 million ferry maintenance facility at the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

But an innovative idea to replace that favored seal sunning spot with a specially built floating platform nearby appears to have done the trick. The notoriously skittish creatures seem pleased with their $68,000 upgrade from the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which manages ferry service on the bay, and the groundbreaking for the new facility is on track for later this month

"For a while, the seals were looking at it, and we didn't know if they were actually going to climb up on it," said Richard Bangert, an Alameda resident who checks on the seals almost daily. "But then they were quickly using it."

On a recent afternoon three seals shared the new platform with about a dozen seabirds.

Bangert was pleased because during the summer spotting a seal is hit or miss. It's more likely during the winter, when the bay is colder and the seals seek opportunities to warm themselves in the sunlight.