Sea Lions

Sea Lions Have Their Day In The Sun

As you scan the ocean waters for glimpses of wildlife during your stay at Overleaf Lodge & Spa, you may see sea lions either swimming and fishing or lounging on coastal rocks. They are characters, for sure, vocalizing loudly and often socializing in large groups.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, there are two kinds of sea lions that live along the Oregon Coast: Steller sea lions and California sea lions. How can you tell the difference?

Steller Sea Lions

The largest member of the Otariidae family, the Steller sea lion actually has a head that looks like a bear with a roar to match when they vocalize.

The Steller sea lion is named for the German naturalist, Georg Wilhelm Steller, who is said to have first described the species when he was exploring the Bering Strait back in 1742. With their declining populations, Steller sea lions are considered an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species, identified as a species of greatest conservation need. They are also called the Northern sea lion.

Steller sea lions are hunters, preying on more than a hundred species of fish and cephalopods, which include octopus and squid. They mainly feed at night. A male Steller sea lion can weigh up to 2,500 pounds and they can live as long as 30 years. They share parts of their range with California sea lions.

California Sea Lions

These “eared” sea lions are commonly seen along the Oregon coast, especially seasonally, when they will often enter rivers to feed. Mid-sized compared to the Steller’s sea lion, they can stay underwater for as long as 20 minutes as they feed on squid, rockfish, mackerel and more. Opportunists, they will even take fish from commercial fishers!

California sea lions like shallower waters and are not afraid to lounge on marina docks or rocky ledges, especially in the summer months. They often bark like dogs to vocalize and are very social, resting or floating in groups that like to pack tightly together.

They are protected through the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Sea Lion Caves

Oregon coastal visitors should not miss visiting the Sea Lion Caves, south of Yachats in Florence, where hundreds of sea lions are visible underground in a naturally formed basalt rock sea cave. You’ll descend by elevator to view this amazing sea lion sanctuary! Winter and spring months are the best times to see them in their cave. Summer is the best time to glimpse them swimming, fishing and lounging outside in the sun.

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