These noisy creatures are often heard barking
from Cal Poly's pier at Avila and have also been seen swimming
uinderneath the pier. As for further research done by any students
or researchers, none have been proposed due to strict laws that
forbid interaction with marine mammals.
Order - Pinnipedia
Family - Otariidae
Genus, Species - Zalophus Californianus,
Greek translation that refers to the large crest on the
skull of an adult male
Distribution & Habitat
California sea lions are found along the coast of the Eastern
North Pacific, from southern British Columbia to northern Mexico.
They inhabit rocky and sandy beaches of coastal islands and mainland
shorelines. You can often times see them lounging around in places
*buoys *sandbars *tide pools *sheltered coves *and piers!
The California sea lion population has been estimated to be about
185,000 individual seals, making them neither endangered or threatened.
Male California sea lions reach sizes up to 8 feet in length
and 880 pounds while females are a little bit smaller reaching
lengths up to 6.5 feet and 240 pounds.
Some of the key traits of all species of pinnipeds include vibrissae,
or whiskers found on either side of the animals head. These vibrissae
each can move independently and have their own blood supply. California
sea lions also have guard hair except for on their flippers. They
use those hairless pectoral flippers to propel themselves in the
water with and up and down motion.
The main way to tell the difference between a California sea
lion and a harbor seal is to look for ear flaps on either side
of the head.. Only the sea lions have visible ear pinnae which
makes them easy to identify, especially when they are swimming
in the water.
California seal lions do not have stable social organizations
during the nonbreeding season, or August through April. They are
extremely gregarious animals and form large aggregations when
on land, Individuals lie close to each other, or even on top of
each other usually to maintain a comfortable level of body heat.
Large males usually exhibit size-related dominance over smaller
animals. Territorial behavior in males is strongly correlated
to mating behavior. At the onset of the breeding season, male
California sea lions establish breeding territories only when
and where females are present. The way that these males establish
their territories is by incessant barking, chest-to-chest pushing,
grappling, and biting. Fights may result injury, but are rarely
The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 made it illegal
to hunt or harass any marine mammal in U.S. waters. The primary
objective of the MMPA is to maintain the health and stability
of the marine ecosystem and to maintain an optimum population
of marine animals.