Sea Lions! (Not Seals)

Please note: I am not an expert in Sea Lions, these are notes about my personal experiences, thoughts and observations from watching these awesome creatures.

One of the first experiences I had in Santa Cruz, California was a trip to see the seal lions at the wharf. Kevin, my husband, and I came out to California several months before moving from Ohio to find a place to live. Kevin had already visited this part of California prior to our trip, so he was able to show me around and introduce me to our new home state. Moving 2,500 miles away from everyone and everything you know is not easy! Getting to see the area before the move made adjusting slightly easier, but not that much easier!

One of my favorites images!

One of my favorites images!

My favorite part of California, besides of course the beautiful scenery, is the sea lion population. I love animals. When I first got to see the seal lions they were rafting, all sleeping in the water floating next to each other, often nestled together, and I fell in love. I did not want to leave the wharf. They were so much fun to watch!

This was the first time I got to see the seal lions rafting!

This was the first time I got to see the seal lions rafting!

I have quickly learned there are bad times of the year to see these amazing creatures and good times. They travel up the coast for mating for several months.

I had one opportunity to get very close to the sea lions, about 2 feet from them. I was so close I could touch them, and trust me it took everything in me to convince myself how bad of an idea that was. I did get to do the next best thing though, photograph them. I spent probably an hour watching, photographing, and observing these creatures on this particular day. You can quickly pick out the big man on campus, he is often mean, vocal, and very large. They all crawl over top of each other but hate it when someone crawls on top of them. Sea lions are very social (vocal) creatures. You can often hear them before you even see them. Its so intriguing watching how they can curl up next to each other, they all cuddle, but then they will quickly turn on one another if they disrupt their sleeping or move too much. They truly do have their own individual personalities. I have witnessed some sea lions who are laid back and some that are very vocal no matter what. I have watched sea lions sleep more than I have seen them in the water. They love to use the support beams of the wharf as hard, makeshift hammocks.

I will never get tired of watching and photographing these amazing creatures. I have fallen in love with them, to the point of correcting anyone that calls them seals (including kids). Its always really funny because I will give a look to Kevin when I hear the word seals. I always politely let them know they are sea lions. To be honest, when I first saw them, I did not know the difference between a seal and a sea lion.... but now I do! Sea lions have visible ear flaps, are brown, and "walk" on their large flippers. Seals do not have visible ear structures, wiggle (like a worm belly flop) on their bellies, and have much smaller flippers. In addition, sea lions tend to be noisy and seals much quieter.

I hope you enjoyed Photo Friday. Check back next week for DIY Monday!