My Friends, the Sea Lions

California sea lions, Zalophus californianus

California sea lions, Zalophus californianus, compete for dock space in Moss Landing, CA. Photo by Arlo

Young California sea lion, Zalophus californianusMoss Landing, California. With the impending prospect of my leaving the Monterey Peninsula, and perhaps California altogether, I think what I might miss most of all are my lively Pinniped friends, the sea lions.  California sea lions Zalophus californianus are a nearly ubiquitous part of day-to-day life along the coast of Monterey. They occupy vacant wharfs, pile up on jetties and buoys. and haul out on random beaches.  They are a playful and noisy bunch, and their barking seems to go on without cease.  These guys have kept me company on many a still Monterey evening, as their lonesome barks echoed throughout the night – climbing high into hills cloaked in Monterey pine, where I used to live.

There’s something about the sea lion that I connect with on a deep, instinctual level.  It’s the same feeling I get around big, loveable dogs. Bears, wolves and giant river otters all seem to have a little of this deep charisma as well.  It’s something of a spiritual connection amongst play-minded, intelligent predators that care for their young and maintain lasting social bonds.  One of the most compelling aspects of sea lion life in particular is their habit of forming dense piles, where they all just lounge around together, on top of one another, loving life.  Despite the intense smell, noise and wicked sharp canine teeth, I’ve often harbored a deep-seated desire to lay down in those piles with them. I’d love nothing more than a big love-fest nap with the sea lions, if only they’d have me as one of their own rather than the alien intruder I’d actually be.

Resting California sea lions, Zalophus californianusSo, today’s blog post is my tribute to my beloved friends.  A good-bye of sorts (or, at least a good-bye for now!).  I’ll miss you guys – more than anything else on California’s Central Coast.  Take care my friends!

The following videos highlight a wildlife spectacle that occurred here in Monterey in the summer of 2010.  Due to changes in the ocean brought on by El Niño, a primary food source for sea lions moved north – from the Channel Islands to the Monterey Bay.  Sea lions followed this food source in mass.  On a typical year, sea lions converge each summer on the Channel Islands to pup, giving birth, breast feeding and giving this year’s young a nudge out into the wild ocean world. In 2010, they instead converged on Monterey’s beaches and had their pups there.  Of course, Monterey always has a healthy, year-round population of sea lions, hanging on the jetties, wharfs and pilings.  But normally, to see them in any numbers on the beaches is very rare.  The first video below is me introducing the sea lion spectacle and the others are footage of the animals at play and in their massive lounging piles along Monterey’s beaches.  Enjoy.


Moss Landing Sea Lions. The following clips were taken last weekend in Moss Landing, a small fishing community along the central Monterey Bay.  Interested in learning more about Moss Landing?  Check out my Moss Landing Guide on Gogobot.

4 Responses to “My Friends, the Sea Lions”

  1. Bubu says:

    Hi Arlo, nice posting…I know the feeling…when I stopped going to work with the sea lions (southern sea lions, Otaria flavescens) in Patagonia, it was really hard…and it took me some good years to go over the feeling of the loss… In the good years of sea lion research, every season, as soon as I was coming out of the truck I could hear and especially smell them, and that was such a great feeling…the feeling of being back in the wild, knowing that I was going to be part of their life, experiencing once again the cycle of seeing sealions to give birth, nurse, mate, fight…

    Thanks for posting this.

    Cheers, Bubu

  2. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already Cheers!

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