Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

How to safely spot sea lions and seals along the Southern California coast

Last week, we shared the sad news that a sea lion had washed ashore in Venice Beach with multiple gunshot wounds. While authorities have offered a $5,000 award to any information leading to an arrest, the rest of us left are wondering just how we can all get along in Southern California. As we share habitats with seals and sea lions, you can’t help but think that the losing species is likely the one not pointing a gun at the other. 

But there are places along our coast where we can safely admire them without threatening beast or beach. (Or getting ourselves wacked by an angry sea lion or seal.) Here are three of our favorite California haunts for sea lions and seals.

King Harbor Marina, Redondo Beach

King Harbor is known for a bounty of (sometime seasonal) seals who like to hang out on a platform barge in the marina. Locals often kayak out among the seal pups that make playful cavorting look like an Olympic sport. No seals in sight? Don’t worry, a curious dolphin might make an appearance.

Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary

The Channel Islands are a key habitat on the California coast for seal and sea lions. The National Parks Service shares that four species of seals and sea lions make the Channel Islands their home, including California sea lions, northern fur seals, harbor seals and northern elephant seals. How best to see these animals? The NPS says: “These species may be viewed during a channel crossing or from various locations on the islands.”

Children’s Pool Beach, La Jolla

Children’s Pool Beach, also known as Casa Beach, is a picturesque area known for its seals, sea lions, and serious amounts of tourists. Look for the turquoise-shirted Friends of the Seals, a nonprofit group whose volunteers stand along the beach offering up information about the seals and sea lions. They can even tell you about all the recently born pups, including 2011’s first arrival, Little Peril, who likes to ride his mother’s back while swimming.

Image: mikebaird/Flickr