Seals and Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is a California landmark, a picturesque beach surrounded by sandstone cliffs. The Pacific Ocean around the Cove is part of the 6,000-acre La Jolla Underwater Park, which includes an ecological reserve. So seals, sea lions, barracuda, leopard sharks, giant sea bass, lobsters and orange garibaldi are abundant. Thus snorkelers and scuba divers alike favor La Jolla Cove as their preferred spot.

Famouse and Controversial

One of the most famous, and controversial, La Jolla attractions is our resident population of wild seals and sea lions. Unless the weather or surf keeps them away, they are almost always at the La Jolla shoreline from the sea caves to the Children’s Pool and beyond.

At La Jolla Cove the seals and sea lions are all over the massive rocks that surround the small beach. They come in from the water on a regular basis. The locals say they are 15 minutes in the water and 2 hours on the shore, but we have experienced them swimming with and around the divers for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you are not getting into the water, there are a bunch of vantage points from which to view the seals and sea lions, and you can walk relatively close. Though you have to remember that they are wild animals, so keep your distance and be safe.

Difference between Seals and Sea Lions

La Jolla is host to both harbor seals and sea lions. The most obvious difference between La Jolla seals and sea lions is that sea lions have external ears. Sea lions also have larger and stronger flippers that allow them to “walk” and climb up cliffs. It’s also why they’re so visible around La Jolla Cove. Seals have smaller, webbed front flippers and move around on land by wriggling on their stomachs. While they do share a lot of features, seals and sea lions are pretty easy to tell apart. Sea lions are brown, and seals are darker gray, brown or almost black with speckled skin. And if you hear barking, that’s a sea lion. Seals are only capable of low grunts.

Enjoy the view

In La Jolla, depending on the time of the year, you can see sea lions and seals of all sizes, from babies to kings of the beast. Some stay by themselves, some lay in big lumps together, some fight or play. Like with humans, it is sometimes hard to tell which.

We often observe seals and sea lions during our day dives and night dives. Seals and sea lions are curious and might come pretty close to divers. Occasionally they will follow a group of divers as if playing hide-and-seek between the branches of giant kelp. To observe these amazing creatures at their natural habitat call (858) 397-8213 to reserve or book online. 

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