Most of the California Sea Lions we see and hear along our coast are males. They come to the Monterey Bay area after traveling up the coast from their breeding grounds and will rest here for several months before venturing further north to feed.
California sea lions inhabit islands and mainland shorelines, from southern British Columbia to Northern Mexico. Their breeding grounds are restricted to the southern part of their range, mostly on the islands off Baja and on the Channel Islands in southern California.
Approximately 80,000 sea lions live and breed on the Channel Islands alone. Breeding colonies, called rookeries, are very crowded and incredibly noisy.
Sea lions are very social animals, often grouping close together on favorite haul-out sites or floating in the water together in groups called “rafts”.
Sea lions are often seen porpoising, or jumping out of the water, a technique used to speed up their swimming. Underwater, they are also very curious about people and will swirl in circles around scuba divers or even leap out of the water right over them.
Unfortunately, sea lions have been found illegally shot, presumably by fisherman, and also caught in drift or gill nets. Because sea lions eat much of the same food people do, including squid, octopus, herring, rockfish, mackerel, and small sharks, they often become indirect victims of the sea food market.