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