California sea lions are coastal mammals found from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico. Their population is growing steadily and currently there are an estimated 257,000 individuals. They can be observed in many coastal spots in California but one of the most famous spots to see California sea lions is at PIER 39 in San Francisco.
They are known for their intelligence, playfulness and noisy barking. Their fur color ranges from chocolate brown in males to a lighter golden brown in females. Male sea lions are larger than females and can reach up to 7 feet in length and between 600 to 850 pounds. Females reach up to 6 feet in length and between200 to 250 pounds.
California sea lions have a dog-like face and at 4 years old they begin developing a bony bump on top of their skull known as a sagittal crest which is fully developed by 7 years of age. The top of male sea lion’s head often gets lighter in color with age.
California sea lions are very social mammals often resting closely packed together at favorite haul-out sites on land or even on floating buoys as seen in the photos below which were taken just off shore in Los Angeles, California
California sea lions have large front flippers that they use to walk on land. When they haul-up from the water onto rock ledges they use their front flippers to navigate through the colony for good resting spots. This is see in the photos below taken in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico.
Many people have trouble telling the difference between sea lions and seals. The two most identifiable differences are that seals have small claws on their front flippers and no outer ear but sea lions lack front claws and they have small outer ear ears. The outer ears can be seen in the photos below.
Most of the time California sea lions are seen laying around resting but they can also be seen when they come up for air while they are hunting for food. I captured a couple of photos of a sea lion searching for food in the rain.
About California Sea Lions
Location: North American Pacific coast from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico.
Life Span: 15 to 20 years
Size: Male sea lions can reach up to 7 feet in length and between 600 to 850 pounds. Females reach up to 6 feet in length and between200 to 250 pounds.
Diet: feed on squid, octopus and small schooling fish like herring, anchovies and sardines.