Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
Like their relatives the Stellarʼs Sea Lions, California Sea Lions also belong to the Otariidae family. They are a well-known species whose population extends from the Alaskan Panhandle to southern Mexico. They are most abundant from California to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. Females remain in locations off California and Mexico, while the males will venture further north to places like Race Rocks Lighthouse near Victoria.
These intelligent animals are a chocolate brown colour with blonde faces. Like all other species of sea lions, they have external ear flaps and hairless flippers. Their large flippers can be rotated underneath their chest and rear, allowing them to walk very well on land. They are very acrobatic swimmers, twisting and turning elegantly below the surface. Their noisy and continuous barking can be heard over long distances on calm days.
Because California Sea Lions have no fur on their flippers, they lose heat quickly in the cold waters of the Pacific. To lower the rate of heat loss through their flippers, they take turns holding one above the water at a time, a behavior called sharking. Due to the triangular shape of their flippers, they can look like shark fins when they hold them above the surface.
California Sea Lions can make long dives, lasting up to 20 minutes. Their diet consists of herring, hake, pollock and some small salmon species. Males can weigh as much as 440kg (1000lbs), and reach lengths of 2.5m (8 feet). Females are much smaller than the males, only weighing up to 113kg (250lbs), and reaching 1.7m (5ʼ6ʼʼ) in length. Their populations are considered abundant, with some areas even experiencing population growth.