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  Viewing California Sea Lions in British Columbia While Sea Kayaking  

Ocean Kayaking and Seeing Sea Lions

California Sea Lion

While California Sea Lions can be seen living alongside Steller Sea Lions of the North Pacific, they are a different species. California sea lions are smaller, darker and more abundant. They breed to the south of British Columbia and the males disperse after mating season. Sometimes moving as far north as Alaska and often stopping in coastal British Columbia. Through the majority of the year, minus the breeding season, the California Sea Lion is the most abundant in British Columbia’s waters. These are playful creatures that will swim sometimes swim a close distance to your kayak. They look jet-black when wet, which is the main way to distinguish them from the lighter Steller Sea Lions. The California Sea Lion is the playful “seal” you have likely seen trained to perform at circuses, water parks and aquariums.

Unlike the depleting Steller Sea Lion population, the California Sea Lion population continuously flourishes, expanding at a rate of 5 percent annually for the past thirty years. In some locations, government set quotas to kill a certain number of California Sea Lions per year to protect a country’s commercial fishing interest. This has happened in Japan and Norway and animal-rights activists have continuously debated the issue.

Are sea lions dangerous?

Sea lions do not attack humans and in the rare occurrence that a human has been injured by a sea lion, it has been because the animal was trying to play with the person who became overpowered by the animal’s size. Divers frequently swim with sea lions and the main risk in doing this is not the sea lions, but their predators, orcas and sharks. There have been instances where a person diving with sea lions has gotten trapped between predator and prey.

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