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Natural History

Much as a reef does, the SS Palo Alto attracts an immense variety of marine life within its concrete wreckage, and many of the same animals found on rocky shores live on it. Mussels, barnacles, sea stars, sea anemones, ocean worms, and rock crabs all cling to the sides and insides of the ship and pier. Harbor seals and sea lions line the deck, while pelicans and cormorants perch on the bow. Pier anglers catch sole, flounder, mackerel, halibut, lingcod, cabezon, bocaccio (tomcod), kingfish, and occasionally salmon and steelhead. During summer and fall, sooty shearwaters (small, dark seabirds) arrive by the tens of thousands from as far south as New Zealand, soaring in masses over the ocean, searching for anchovies. Sea lions, dolphins, sea otters, and migrating whales are often spotted in the water.