Sea Lions of San Diego

One of the most iconic sites to come across when touring the San Diego shoreline is sea lions.  Pinnipeds, a word taken from the Latin meaning fin-footed, is the over-arching animal family to which all seals belong.  Sea lions are direct members of the Pinniped family Oteriidae, sharing lineage with the fur seal and together making up what is commonly categorized as “eared seals”.  The sea lion’s external ear flaps make them distinctive from other lines of seal families.  The harbor seal, a more commonly recognized seal breed, has no externally visible ears.  Therefore, sea lions qualify as a unique breed among a well-recognized species, possessing characteristics that are uniquely its own, even though the sea lion shares thick blood with the seal genus family.

Seal Lions Scientific Information

In fact, sea lions were originally thought to be of a separate genus family, making the sea lion an animal breed unto itself.  However, according to L.P. Wynen, author of “Phylogenetic Relationships Within the Eared Seals (Otariidae: Carnivora): Implications for the Historical Biogeography of the Family”, new evidence now supports that sea lions and northern fur seals share a biology more similar to each other than any other seal genus.  While all seal families are technically related to each other, the sea lion is most closely related to the walrus—an over-sized version of itself—and the seal—sometimes referred to as the “slippery seal”.  Despite these recent findings however, the sea lion still remains unique.  While the sea lion may considerably compare to the northern fur seal, the sea lions are still unique, cultivating comfortably together on the seal beaches of San Diego and other tropic-like environments, while the northern fur seal resides mostly off the Northern California Coast and has geographical roots in Japan.

Sea Lions are Big and Smart

Male sea lions can weigh as much as 660 pounds and be up to eight feet long, while the females are much smaller at around 200 pounds and up to six feet long.  Sea lions are often noted for their beauty and pleasant disposition, though natural behavior can consist of males occasionally fighting each other for rights to certain females or feeding territory (a sea lion can consume up to 35 pounds of food each meal!).  Mentally, sea lions are recognized for their sophistication.  Some sea lions can be readily trained, and most often a sea lion performing tricks in circuses, zoos, or other animal attractions is a California sea lion.  The U.S. Navy’s San Diego-based Marine Mammal Program has even been successful with teaching sea lions to assist human divers.

If one spends any real amount of time exploring San Diego’s harbors and shorelines, he or she is bound to at some point visually behold a California sea lion.  We see Sea Lions on just about every boating trip we take, and there are several dozen sea lions that essentially live at the bait barge and many others that hang out on the channel markers.  They can be noisy and will certainly say hello.  With San Diego Boat Tours, not only will you be able to see and hear the sea lions, but they are very aromatic as well—you can smell their unique scent from a distance.  A vacation or residence in San Diego cannot possibly be complete without taking in one of the city’s most iconic creatures.  Just as whale watching creates a one-of-a-kind opportunity for boat guests to see beautiful creatures up close, the same can be said of getting to see a raft (or group) of sea lions.  You haven’t seen San Diego if you haven’t beheld these awe-inspiring animals.

[callout font_size=”13px” style=”golden”]

The quicker we humans learn that saving open space and wildlife is critical to our welfare and quality of life, maybe we’ll start thinking of doing something about it.(Jim Fowler – professional zoologist)



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Call Now