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The Iconic Sausalito Sea Lion

Al Sybrian's Iconic Statue has come to be Synonymous with Sausalito

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The sea lion has watched over Sausalito’s waterfront for more than fifty years, and has come into being in two distinct iterations. It has weathered storms, tides, and changes in the makeup of the city that it watches over and in the process has become more than a mere landmark in the waterfront city of Sausalito. The sea lion is a part of the legacy of the eclectic and art-focused community.

The Origins of the Sea Lion

Sausalito’s sea lion statue was born from the mind of beloved local artist Al Sybrian who was a longtime resident of the bayside city and a prolific artist, sculptor, and sketcher. Living near the water in Sausalito, Sybrian saw the sea lions up close on a daily basis and became enamored with their form and playfulness. After sketching the marine mammals at length, he shared with friends the idea of constructing a concrete sculpture of a stylized version of a se lion and positioning it at the water’s edge.

Having no funds for the materials for his project himself, Sybrian’s friends and other locals in the community began putting together a collection to fund the creation of what would become the city’s iconic landmark. In 1957, the concrete sea lion was born and sat at its bayside home for more than eight years until weather, tidal forces, and shifting ground began to deteriorate the stonework and the sea lion began to crumble.

The Sea Lion’s Rebirth

Upon hearing of Sybrian’s intention to destroy the crumbling statue, local arts maven Enid Foster began a campaign to raise funds to have the statue replicated and cast in bronze to withstand the elements. With donations form various community organizations, neighbors, and the City of Sausalito itself, the bronze statue became a reality and was placed on the same spot as the previous version in 1966. The statue has stood in this spot since that time and has brought joy and laughter to locals and visitors alike and has become an icon in the North Bay city.

See the Sea Lion

Although it is a prominently displayed piece of public art and an iconic representation of the spirit of Sausalito, many visitors to the area pass within feet of the infamous sea lion sculpture and never see or appreciate it. Located at the ideal height over the waters of the San Francisco Bay, the sea lion appears to be floating over the waves at high tide and perched magnificently on the rocks at low tide.

If you are in Sausalito and want to get a glimpse of the playful and delightful sea lion statue, head out to the waterfront area near Tiffany Park. Just north of Tiffany Park, you will find a commemorative plaque at the head of a short set of stairs leading down to the waters edge. These will bring you down to the sea lion itself at low tide or to a place where you can watch it presiding over the waters at high tide.

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Photos copyright by Jay Graham Photographer