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Posts Tagged ‘marine mammals’

California Sea Lions. Noisy and Fun to Watch.

Posted by Greg on January 18, 2012

Recently, Jody and I were in San Francisco taking in the Pacific coast and getting our dose of ocean air.  Now, there are things that everyone goes to see when in San Francisco (e.g., the Golden Gate Bridge).  It’s more or less a tourist ritual.  I’ll admit that we are no exception to the rule, but Jody and I also have San Francisco ritual of our own: whenever we are in San Francisco, we make it a point to go to Fisherman’s Wharf to watch the California Sea Lions at Pier 39.

Pier 39 Sea Lion perch (Photo © Jody Diehl)

We have been fortunate in that they have been there whenever we have gone to see them, and out in fairly good numbers.  Apparently, according to some internet sources, their numbers dwindled and the sea lions became scarce toward the end of 2009. Rumor has it that they left in search of food, but for now they have made their way back to Pier 39, to the delight of tourists and locals alike.  Very noisy and quite entertaining, these coastal critters seem to be bred especially for the spotlight!  I’ve heard tell that Jody’s mother once spent more than an hour watching a pair of them take turns pushing one another off of Pier 39.  That particular spot was clearly prime sea lion real estate.  It just never gets old!

California Sea Lions are a fixture up and down the Pacific Coast of North America, from Vancouver, B.C. to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico.  Because California Sea Lions are quite adaptable to varying environments, they can be found on natural rocks and beaches and on man-made flats, such as piers and bumper floats.

California Sea Lions on Rocky Coast of La Jolla, California(Photo ©Jody Diehl)

According to The Marine Mammal Center, California sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and noisy barking. Their color ranges from chocolate brown in males to a lighter, golden brown in females. Males reach 850 pounds (390 kg) and seven feet (2.1 m) in length. Females grow to 220 pounds (110 kg) and up to six feet (1.8 m) in length. They have a “dog-like” face, and at around five years of age, males develop a bony bump on top of their skull called a sagittal crest. The top of a male’s head often gets lighter in color with age. These members of the otariid or walking seal family have external ear flaps and large flippers that they use to ‘walk’ on land.

If you’d like to see the famous Pier 39 sea lions, you can check out the 24/7  “Sea Lion Cam”.  Alternately, we highly recommend that you look them up next time you’re in the bay area!

Happy sea lion watching!

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to the Children’s Pool, La Jolla, California

Posted by Greg on December 20, 2011

Photo ©Jody Diehl

Welcome to Children’s Pool, indeed. This area was created in the early 1930’s as a safe area for kids to swim. Time and tides have changed the area as sand has filled it in. Harbor Seals have moved in as the changed landscape has made it ideal for them to make it a seal rookery.  As with any wild animal, you should make it a point not to get too close to them. The laws are such that you are not allowed to disturb them deliberately in any way.

Children's Pool, La Jolla, California. Photo ©Jody Diehl

According to the City of San Diego’s official site, “The Children’s Pool is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. This is a very picturesque beach with a panoramic view. During much of the year, seals and sea lions are present on or near the beach and a reserve for these marine mammals, called Seal Rock, is just offshore. Several small beaches are nearby including Wipeout Beach to the south and Shell Beach to the north. This is a popular beach for scuba divers because of the reefs just offshore. These same reefs can create very strong currents and other hazards, particularly in high surf conditions.”

Seals near Children's Pool, La Jolla, California (©Jody Diehl)

Every time Jody and I have been at Children’s Pool in La Jolla, we have seen the Harbor Seals. You might not want to plan on swimming at this beach, though. Because of all the seals, sea lions and birds, there is a high e-coli bacteria content in the water. It is mostly worth the visit because the wildlife is really fun to watch.

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Elephant Seals Along the Central California Coast

Posted by Jody on August 10, 2011

I have friends who will be driving along the Pacific Coast from the Los Angeles area to San Francisco over the Labor Day weekend.  I thought I might just give them a preview of the elephant seal rookeries nestled on the beaches they’ll be passing along the way.  These photos were taken late in the year from a vantage point north of Morro Bay, California.

Large, and often noisy, (especially during breeding season) the male elephant seals can grow up to 14 feet long.  The rookeries are often manned by friendly attentive docents who are there to help you understand and learn about these extraordinary marine mammals.  There are informative signs posted at the platforms and overlooks along the way also.

Elephant Seals, Central California Coast (©Jody Diehl)

The group, Friends of the Elephant Seal, has a wonderful website that is loaded with information on elephant seals, the rookeries, other marine mammals, and the non-profit organization’s mission.

Elephant Seals, Central California Coast (©Jody Diehl)

Life’s a journey!  Enjoy the ride!  -J-

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Pacific Coast Beaches, Sand and Shoreline, Sea Lions and Seals | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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