Stop 'Lion' Around!

by Lindsey Tillisch, Intern

Perhaps you have heard the echoing, dog-like bark coming from the sea while walking along harbors and beaches, but this vocal mammal is no house pet - it is the California sea lion. The California sea lion is a marine mammal native to the state of California and a nongame species under state law.

The California sea lion is known for its dog-like personality and appearance, and is often a part of entertainment due to their anthropomorphic qualities and high levels of intelligence and curiosity. The California sea lion prefers to congregate in large groups around rocks in the ocean and sometimes on boat docks. The California sea lion is most content when thigmotactic, meaning they prefer to be on top of each other in small areas to stay warm with blubber-to-blubber contact. Harbor seals, which are often confused with the California sea lion, prefer to stay closer to shore in small, spread-out groups or by themselves completely.

The California sea lion can be seen in the Bay Area at Lighthouse Point in Santa Cruz and along the breakwater at the Monterey Harbor. You may even see groups of California sea lions floating on the surface of the sea with vertical flippers high in the air, seeming to wave hello under the warmth of the sun.