Like many visitors to southern California, I head to the beach. It is not for surfing or sun bathing, it is the sea lions. La Jolla beach area attracts sea lions to the rocky shore. Winter is even better, it is cold in the midwest and it is pup season in La Jolla. These cute pups, with dog-like faces, long whiskers, with dark, upside down triangular noses. Seven pounds at birth, the fuzzy brown babies have such expressive eyes, I feel like I can see their souls through their eyes.
Sea Lions in south California are brown to golden in color. The males, which are larger than the females, weigh about 850 pounds and are approximately 7 feet long, while the females are about 220 pounds and six feet long. Males also have a thicker neck and develop a boney bump on their head called a sagittal crest, as they near five years of age. The color of the fur on their heads also lightens up. California Sea Lions have ear flaps, unlike some other types of Sea Lions.They have large front flippers that they use to propel through the water, and also use their front flippers to walk or pull themselves around on land. Sea Lions will eat rock fish, mackerel, herring, squid, octopus, and small sharks. In turn, Great White Sharks and Orcas favor Sea Lions for food.
California Sea Lions are very social animals and will rest together in large groups on rocky ledges at the shore line. They can be found playing in the waves and I watched some hunting along the shore. They communicate with barking sounds and the pups learn to recognize the sounds and smells of their mothers, who also recognize the smell and sounds of their pups. Breeding season lasts from May to August. Sea Lion pups are weaned at about one year of age, and will continue to live in their colony until they reach adulthood. Outside of the breading season, Sea Lions spend much of their time out at sea, coming to shore to molt.
With my long lens, I was able to stand along the cliffs and photograph them as they played, hunted, and interacted with each other. I was able to spend a couple of hours watching and feeling like our lives had intermingled for a while, from behind my lens.
I am a nature, wildlife and underwater photographer. I love to travel and capture the story.
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