California Sea Lion, Zalohus californianus, is not seen very often in The Sea Ranch, but the males migrate past us twice a year. Sometimes he will stop off to rest on a rock on his way back and forth between British Columbia and Southern California, but the best place to see him is in the water just offshore. Don't confuse him with Harbor Seal. Sea Lion is larger, solid brown (wet) or tan (dry) in color, and has ear flaps. If you get a good look at his head you will also see that the male has a more pronounced forehead than Harbor Seal.
We don't know why Sea Lion does not stop by the Ranch more often, but we suspect that it is because of a combination of reasons including food sources, habit, and privacy concerns. He does stop regularly to the south at the mouth of the Russian River (Jenner) and just a few miles north at an Island called Barking Rocks (Anchor Bay). His trip north is driven by his interest in the richer fishing grounds to be found in the waters offshore in Washington and Canada. His trip south is driven by his interest in mating in the Farralone Islands.
Various sub species of Sea Lion live in other parts of the world. Many ancient cultures had myths that involved mysterious creatures that lived in the sea. Many of those were undoubtably inspired by Sea Lion. He is often depicted in negative terms. Fishermen understandably don't like Sea Lion because he is a more effective fisherman than they are. In Latin America, Sea Lion is Sea Wolf, lobo marino. In the United States he is presently protected by law and his numbers are increasing. He is very fond of salmon and actually follows them up the Columbia River to the Bonneville Dam where he loiters under the fish ladder and stimulates great controversy. He is also considered a pest in San Francisco Bay. On the other hand, he is recognized as the most intelligent pinneped in the world and is the one who masquerades as a seal in circus shows.