• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

California Sea Lion

Four California sea lions on a rock

California sea lions often lounge on offshore rocks of the Olympic Peninsula.

California Sea LionZalophus californianus

Identification:
Maybe best known for their distinctive circus-like bark, California sea lions are so called because of their breeding grounds in California's Channel Islands. They are smaller and more vocal than the Steller's sea lions that haul out alongside them in the offshore waters of the Olympic Peninsula. Though usually darker in color than Steller's sea lions, California adult males are further distinguished by a prominent crest on their head.

Habitat:
The Olympic coast lies along the migratory path of both California and Steller's sea lions. On the way to foraging areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, California sea lions feed in the coastal waters in the late summer and early fall. They haul out in masses on the abundant offshore rocks, amiably alongside their larger cousins. These whiskered creatures are often visible on the islands off the coast of Cape Flattery and Cape Alava, arriving in late summer or early fall, and often staying through spring.

Diet:
California sea lions feed mainly on squid, smelt, codfish, rockfish, and most other available fish.

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Did You Know?

DYK fisher release

Fishers (members of the weasel family, related to minks and otters) were reintroduced to Olympic National Park in 2008-10. They are native to the forests of Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, but disappeared due to overtrapping in the late 1800s/early 1900s and habitat loss.