Sea Lions

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About Sea Lions

While commonly seen in zoos and circus parks, The California Sea Lion is a lot more fun to see in the wild. The California Sea Lion has an abundant population that is found mainly in the waters off California (although its range extends from Mexico to Alaska.

Where to See Sea Lions

Pier 39 in San Francisco is the premier spot for viewing Sea Lions. But if you are in Oregon, head to Sea Lion Cave. See details below:

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Sea Lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco

San Francisco

Pier 39 in San Francisco is the premier spot for viewing Sea Lions. The sea lions have been there almost continuously since 1989. Expect a crowd, as nearly all visitors to San Francisco seem to find a way to visit Pier 39, on the Wharf. Still, in December 2009, the Sea Lions all left Pier 39, but then they returned again in the spring. Since then, their numbers have fluxuated. You can use the web camera (link to Pier 39 Web Camera) for a real-time view of Pier 39, to see if the Sea Lions are present.


Sea Lion Caves are a connected system of sea caves and caverns open to the Pacific Ocean in the U.S. state of Oregon. They are located 11 miles (18 km) north of Florence on U.S. Highway 101, about midpoint on the 400 miles (640 km) Oregon coast. The sea level portion of this cave and the sea cliff rocks just outside the cave have become, over the centuries, the only known mainland rookery and hauling area (wintering home) of the Stellar Sea Lion, and, to a lesser extent, the California Sea Lion. See Sea Lion Caves


Moss Landing, between San Francisco and Monterey California, is also a great location to see Sea Lions. I strongly recommend taking a Marine Safari, where they take you from Moss Landing all the way through Elkhorn Slough (link to Marine Safari at Moss Landing) -- an area chock full of marine creatures and birds -- but you can generally see the Sea Lion yourself simply by wondering around the small harbor. To get to Moss Landing, drive north from Monterey on Highway 1 for 20-25 minutes, and Turn Left onto Moss Landing Road. -- William S. Howard

Isolated off the coast of California, the Channel Islands are a habitat quite unique from the mainland. The windswept islands are a remarkable sight: steep cliffs tower above rocky beaches and pounding surf. Lush grasses and wildflowers carpet the interior of the islands. Both above and below the water's surface, you'll see amazing and playful marine mammals, including sea lions, seals, and whales. Whatever you do, don't miss the hike to Bennet Beach, on San Miguel. This is probably the only place in the world where you can see as many as 50,000 seals and sea lions all at once.


Click on any photo to enlarge...


Marine Safari at Moss Landing

Pier 39 Web Camera

Sea Lion Caves