Santa Cruz sea lions (Zalophus californianus)
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Most of the California Sea Lions we see and hear along our coast are males. They come to the Monterey Bay area after traveling up the coast from their breeding grounds and will rest here for several months before venturing further north to feed.
Approximately 80,000 sea lions live and breed on the Channel Islands alone. Breeding colonies, called rookeries, are very crowded and incredibly noisy.
Sea lions are very social animals, often grouping close together on favorite haul-out sites or floating in the water together in groups called "rafts".
If you like to watch sea lions very closely, Santa Cruz’s Municipal Wharf is the place to go! Just in the middle of downtown, along the Boardwalk, you can even park your car free for 30 minutes along the wharf. Then take some stairs down to the edge of the water – and there they are taking sunbaths. If you are lucky you may even watch a sea lion jumping out of the water and annoying all the other dry ones, as they try to accommodate space for the newcomer. The noise they make then is amazing!!