Startling change in sea lion behavior

Fred Brown posted this observation on the docent website on January 24:

With space on their eponymous rocks at a premium, due to very large waves coupled with a high tide, the big guys forced the younger and smaller sea lions to find a new haul-out area.  With lower Sea Lion Point Trail closed, they invaded their namesake, Sea Lion Cove.  Around 60 - 75 sea lions took advantage of no humans on the lower trail to find refuge from the churning seas.  A rare occurrence, which elicited the familiar question, "How did they get up there?"  The secret is in the hip joint which allows them to "walk" up the steep cliff-side and relax in the warm January sun.



But that was only the beginning; Larry Rychener posted this report of growing numbers on January 31:

Here was the situation at Sea Lion Cove yesterday afternoon.  Any theories as to why they keep coming or when they will return to their usual haunts out on Sea Lion Rocks?

Reminds me of the situation some years ago when sea lions took over the small cove next to Fishermans Wharf.




Editor's note: The numbers are now estimated to be in the hundreds.  Two docents have photographed stillborn sea lion pups on the same beach.  We have been told for years that all of the sea lions at Point Lobos are males, but now we have evidence of females in this group.  Is this a temporary phenomenon, or are we now seeing the beginning of a new breeding colony north of the Santa Barbara area?  Nobody seems to know -- only time will tell.


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