Mr. and Mrs. Zalophus californianus (Sea Lions of La Jolla). Our California Sea Lions which are common in San Diego’s La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve.  These carnivores,  are “pinnipeds” and closely related to weasels, skunks, red Pandas, raccoons and believe it or not bears.

Adult Female Sea Lion

Adult Female Sea Lion

Note that fur seals and sea lions are Otariidae or “eared seals”

Their ears (in the photo) are slightly behind their ears and where you would expect them, on the side of their head.  The true seals have auditory openings in the side of their heads not actual ears.

They are also distinguished from seals by their huge pectoral flippers which allow them to virtually walk on all fours with their large posterior flippers.  The males identified when mature by size and by a protrusion on the top of their heads.   “Za” in Greek means intensive and  lophus means “crest.  Typical males average around 770 lbs (350 kg) but one Long Beach California individual was weighed in at over 900 lbs (408 kg)  and females about 220 lbs (110 kg).

Males are typically around 2.4 m (7.9 ft) long and weigh up to 350 kg (770 lb), while females are typically around 1.8 m (5.9 ft) and weigh up to 100 kg (220 lb).

Their Hydrodynamic bodies allow them to reach speed at about 7 MPH (11 km/h)  while diving for up to 10 minutes to depths of 900 feet (275 m).  Their typical foraging range  is from the surface to around 265 ft (276 m) and it seems they are moving much faster when they are charging you underwater at 7 MPH.  Their vibrissae or wiskers can feel hydrodynamic vibrations and help detect underwater prey or predators in the nearby vicinity.

California Sea Lions are intelligent animals.  Because of this they are often seen performing in marine parks and circus environments.  They are also used by the military in various operational conditions and can understand simple sign language given by their human counterparts.  The US Navy has a permanent training facility for Sea Lions in San Diego Bay.

Our  San Diego diving and snorkeling guests can almost be assured of having a sea lion encounter on every tour into the La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve.

Author:  Rod Watkins