Sunday, June 6, 2010

CA sea lion ~ 06/06/10 ~ Coast Guard Pier




California sea lion
Zalophus californianus

There's nothing like a newborn to make you say "Oh my, how cute!" Mother and pup appeared to be exhausted from the birthing experience. However, she did manage to aggressively attack several males to get them to move off nearby rocks. After a big wave washed the baby into the water, she grabbed it with her mouth and tossed him back into the water on the other side of the rock. It took her a while, but she finally moved her baby up to another, higher rock. She was still bleeding from the birth. After about half an hour, the newborn was finally able to nurse. Maybe this one will survive longer than 24 hours.

This is the second sea lion birth I've witnessed in the past 2 weeks. Click here to read my ps note from May 24, 2010 of my first sighting. For those that may not know, sea lion birthing in Monterey is extremely unusual. Usually, sea lions have their pups further south. For a local news video, check out KTVU's recent coverage.

ps 06/07/10 - I have dozens of other photos, but the amount of blood was off-putting even for me. I again heard back from the Marine Mammal Center after asking if they wanted to know this kind of information and how to report dead sea lion bodies. Due to the number of pups that have been born here this year, NOAA has deemed this area a temporary rookery, making it a protected place for mom and pup sea lions. Interesting.

pss 06/14/10 - By Saturday (06/12/10), we noticed most of the sea lions had moved off the rocks along the Rec Trail in Monterey and were crowded onto a small, sandy beach next to the Fisherman's Wharf. Only the weekend before (the date of the photos above), we saw the sea lions covering every rock surface available and were not on the beach - it makes me wonder if anyone from the wharf was deterring the sea lions from establishing themselves on the small spot of sand. By Sunday (06/13/10), sure enough, there were posted signs that sea lions are a federally protected species and to keep a safe distance. Today (Monday), I noticed a significant decrease in the number of sea lions from the Coast Guard Pier to Fisherman's Wharf. I wonder if they've started heading out to wherever they go this time of year. Contrary to what I said previously, I think the total number of sea lions in the area exceeded those of last year.  For additional photos, photographer and friend Greg Magee also captured a mother tossing her baby a couple weeks earlier on May 26, 2010.

7 comments:

Janet said...

I suspect that as ocean temperatures change, the sea lion grounds will change to follow their north-moving favored prey.
Nice photos!

Erica Lea said...

Wow, what a special sighting! Not only to get to see the baby, but also that s/he is was just born. I hope the baby makes it, too - I know it's a harsh world, but sounds like mom's doing her best:-)

P.S. Thank you so much for that link - I needed it!

Steve Willson said...

I've never gotten a close up look at a Sea Lion in the wild. Years ago I was in California and someone pointed to little black specks in the water and told me they were Sea Lions. It would really be neat to witness what you did.

Greg Magee said...

A friend and I watched a live birth this morning (June 9) on the boat ramp at the harbor - all appeared to go well for a change....

Nature ID said...

Thanks everybody for commenting! I tend to forget not everyone gets to see this kind of stuff.

And, welcome, Greg to my blog. I love your photos!

Nature ID said...

Greg, it was very nice to chat with you this morning. I hope you post a pic of the night heron, considering I didn't have my camera on me.

Jennifer said...

This is awesome. It's so fun exploring and discovering on your blog....I love what I find