sea lions

As mentioned before, I’ll be doing a lot of jumping around for the next while — writing about travels in the west, and about baking pies or making bread, and probably about other things like shopping bags, documentary movies, and definitely how much I *hate* airports and flying (none of the above in any particular order). I even have a few insect posts left to write before the snow flies. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s today’s offering. I’m jumping back to the California coast for this one. And yes, it was another “first” for me. First time to see Sea Lions outside of a zoo when I was a kid.

These Sea Lions were photographed at Crescent City where a population of them seems to hang out on some floating docks in the harbour. I stopped to watch them on two occasions, and during the day, they seem to lie about basking in the sun. They’re also very vocal. I’ve uploaded a little MP4 movie clip of them so that you can hear them for yourself. The barking seemed to go on fairly constantly, even at night. In fact, Don and I stayed at a motel not far from the harbour for a couple of nights and the barking went on all night – interspersed with the local fog horn.

We also heard Sea Lions while camped in the forests high above the ocean at Patrick’s Point State Park. During the night, their voices carried up to the woods and was not at all unpleasant to me, perhaps because it was an interesting new sound.

As you might well guess, I know very little about Sea Lions, so can’t really tell you much about them. According to my Audubon Field Guide to North American Mammals, there are two species of Sea Lions that seem to frequent the California coast — California (Zalophus californianus) and Stellar, or Northern Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus). Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think all of the ones that we saw in northern California would have been Stellar Sea Lions — at least, from what I can tell from comparing my photos to those in one of my field guides (head shape and coloration seem similar). My field guide also says that Sea Lions are very fast swimmers — up to 25 miles per hour, and can dive to depths well exceeding 400 feet while hunting for fish, squid, octopus, and other marine creatures.

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5 Responses to “sea lions”

  1. Pamela Says:

    I’ve heard they can be a pain for other users of a harbour–but they look lovely to me.

  2. Wayne Says:

    Imagine being able to see a time when the snow will fly!

    Imagine seeing and photographing sea lions!

    Imagine having a mammal field guide! That’s the one reference book I lack.

  3. burning silo Says:

    Pamela – I can see how people near a harbour might not appreciate the presence of a large herd (?) of sea lions. I don’t know if the dock was meant for them, but if not, they seem to have completely taken possession of it and carry on with their barking all day long. That could probably be annoying to local residents after awhile. However, they attract a fair number of tourists, which is probably good for the local economy.

    Wayne – Yes, aren’t I lucky — I’ve seen snowflakes twice within the past few days, and sea lions within the last 2 weeks, and I have my mammal field guide right here on the table beside me. It boggles the mind just a little.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    We saw sea lions in Santa Cruz all the time, and still the delight never wears off! They like to hang out and sleep under the Santa Cruz wharf. I could hear them barking for quite a ways from the beach. Great creatures.

    I’ve camped out at Patrick’s Point too. One of your descriptions the other day of finding a camp spot away from the RVs, a bit off the beaten path, reminded me of where I’ve camped there.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Robin – Patrick’s Point is a great place and we found a nice spot to camp on the west side of the campground that was open (many of the sites were shut down for the season, so our choice of areas was somewhat limited). There weren’t too many people in the campground and the spots along that side were too small for RVs. An older VW van with a small group of young people did come along later and set up a couple of tents at the next site, but they were quiet (quieter than the sea lions!) so it was fine. In most cases, when camping, we were able to find similar sites where we were pretty much off on our own…. perhaps not in distance, but due to the terrain and vegetation. If the weather had been a little warmer, I think we would have done some hike-in camping at some of parks where that’s an option.