Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Barbara Wilson sent a series of sea lion photos; her notes are indented:

Male California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) travel far north of their breeding grounds during the winter.  The external ears distinguish sea lions from seals.  Males of this species are identified by the domed heads.  I’m not sure if the one with a low head is a female, a young male, or another species.  Any time one moves much, he and his neighbors all engage in loud barking and open-mouthed threats.  They have impressive canines!

These individuals are resting on low docks in Newport, Oregon.  The docks were built for small boats, but the sea lions took over.  Now the docksare disintegrating under heavy use and people are raising funds to replace them, so we can continue to see the sea lions this close.




In any large group of animals, you could expect to see injuries and scars. Here is one with some kind of skin problem, next to one with scars from what look like an encounter with a propeller.



Sometimes the sea lions rest peacefully.


Lagniappe: Bonus squirrel-vs.-hawk video, courtesy of reader Federico.


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I recall several years ago, while living in the Bay Area, the Sea Lions had taken over at fisherman’s wharf. Don’t know if they ever figured that out or they just moved on.

    • eric
      Posted February 7, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      That’s Pier 39. AIUI their residency is seasonal or cyclical – it comes and goes from month to month, but they have been regulars at that dock for decades now.

      What fun animals to watch. Noisy, stinky, but always amusing. This is nature watching done right (unless, I guess, you’re a dock owner…)

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 7, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Ah, yes. Just a dock watcher here. Lived in Alameda for three years in the early 80s and don’t think they were on the docks then. But in 2000 they had taken over. Noisy is correct.

        • Derek Freyberg
          Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          Also playing at the wharves at Santa Cruz and Monterey, and probably lots of others too – those are just ones where I’ve seen them.

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    There is a funny gif about just this sort of thing with sea lions on a dock here.
    Hope my url tool works…

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink


  3. mudskipper
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Sea lions in Oregon are most likely to be male. Female sea lions stay close to the breeding grounds in Southern California and Mexico.

    In Moss Landing, CA, the sea lions used to gather on a dock right by a restaurant in the harbor’s entrance. They were quite the tourist attraction and kayakers could kayak right by them. They ended up sinking the dock, one segment at a time. They now congregate on the docks in the boat harbor (and sometimes on the boats themselves), no doubt to the tremendous annoyance of the boaters.

    Morale of story: if you put in a dock in sea lion territory, make sure it can withstand several tons of sea lions.

    • mudskipper
      Posted February 7, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Ack! “Moral of the story” not “Morale of the story”

    • Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Good point!

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