Sleeping Sea Lion

By Carol Toye, Docent at Sierra Club Seal Society

June 23, 2021 — La Jolla is lucky to be home to such an array of wildlife. Our unique location on the edge of a deep underwater canyon, bordering two marine reserves, encourages many types of marine and birdlife to call La Jolla their home. Visitors are attracted from far and wide to admire the wildlife: from the gulls, cormorants, brown and pelicans to the seals and sea lions around the coastline.

Both seals and sea lions have established rookeries in La Jolla. A rookery is a breeding ground of colony-forming marine mammals and seabirds in which the colony gives birth to over 50 newborns per year. The seal rookery is at Children’s Pool which closes temporarily during their pupping season from December 15  to May 15 each year. The sea lion rookery is on Boomers Beach and Point La Jolla, near the Cove. These marine mammals don’t usually mix despite being part of the same pinniped family of species.

Sea lion popping season begins June 1 and this year, in the first three weeks, over 45 pups have been born.  The pups clamber clumsily around the rocks and the rocky beach calling for their moms who touch them with their noses to recognize their own. The females give birth to one pup per year and nurse them between 6 months to 1 year. We even have one pup from last year who still insists on nursing his now pregnant mom!!

Come and watch the pups as they grow and become more playful: picking up feathers, chasing seagulls, climbing on top of each other but always looking for their mom who may have gone out to fish for a while. Don’t worry if you see them on their own, their mom will be back soon but give them some space, the best place to view them is to stay on the sidewalk. The pups can’t swim for 3 months so it is important not to crowd around them, they risk falling from the rocks into the ocean!

Look out for Sierra Club Seal Society docents in their blue T-shirts.  They have brochures and may even be able to point out a mom giving birth or bulls fighting for territory. See you soon at the rookery!

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