There are seals and sea lions all along the California coast. The seal rookery at San Simeon north of San Diego is six miles long. Many choose to go to the Channel Isles to view seals and sea lions. There are even seals and sea lions near San Francisco. We saw both species at San Diego’s La Jolla Cove. We also saw lots of locals in swimming suits interacting with them on a beach below. This can become risky behavior.
Sea lions are normally not aggressive but they can be territorial, and they are used to having humans around seeking interaction. It’s best to keep a safe distance from both species and avoid stepping in any brown puddles. Most of them contain sea lion feces that can be a problem later. San Diego residents share their coast with seals and sea lions that frolic, sun themselves, and vocalize loudly. They also often get too close to them.
There are many merchants at La Jolla who crave viewers’ business and don’t care about fines and such. Parking can also be competitive and difficult. We parked in a lot, and I highly recommend this to avoid trouble. The best viewing is from late April to early June. Tourists can be there all year, however; and they are often in trouble before they realize the danger they are in.
There are 4 species of seals and 2 species of sea lions usually in this area of La Jolla. Called pinnipeds, these sea creatures don’t have to go too far to feed themselves on these beaches and rocks. That’s why they are here! They dine on small fish, shellfish, and squid. They also bite and lunge if people get too close to them.
People strolling along this coastline are also frequently unaware that the path below them might be slippery, or they step in a puddle that is likely to include sea lion waste and they transfer the smell to their vehicle. People who benefit from tourism have done a good job of providing stairs and walkways that provide access to beaches and rocks full of seals and sea lions. Shoes can be the problem too if the unwary wear open-toed ones. They are, unfortunately, the most popular footwear now.
Visitors and locals can spend hours walking along this coast to experience what can be seen. Like others, we did not pay attention to distances walked. Smart observers stick to a route and a time commitment.
Kayaking is the best way to observe the seals and sea lions. The La Jolla Cove is very popular with both locals and tourists who often realize that because they can get close to wild critters doesn’t mean they should.