Sea Lion Caves is a privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary (since 1932) centrally located just 11 miles north of Florence on the beautiful and rugged Oregon Coast.
The main haul out areas for California Sea Lions along the Oregon Coast are in the Columbia River near Astoria (East Mooring Basin), Newport’s Port Dock One, Three Arch Rocks off Oceanside and Shell Island at Simpson Reef.
We parked on the side of the road, took in a view of a lighthouse, and then took a lovely path shaded by Douglas firs and lined with ferns into the park. The trail, which allowed dogs , led us to a park with signs posted, “Animals Prohibited Outside of Vehicle”.
Sea lion attacks on humans are rare, but when humans come within approximately 2.5 meters (8 ft), it can be very unsafe. In a highly unusual attack in 2007 in Western Australia, a sea lion leapt from the water and seriously mauled a 13-year-old girl surfing behind a speedboat.
Since our kindergarten years, we’ve all learned that lions live in dens. However, lions do not live in dens, instead live under shady trees (Acacia trees of Africa). It’s only when the lioness wants to give birth to her cubs, does she find shelter in a den or lair.
Oregon has three sea lion species and two seals. The Stellar sea lion , Northern elephant seal and Pacific harbor seal are Oregon Conservation Strategy Species.
Dozens of seals and sea lions inhabit the rocks at Seal Rock State Recreation Site, providing excellent wildlife photography opportunities. Uncluttered beaches and intriguing tide pools make the Seal Rock area a relaxing location for summer strolls.
Nearly all seal species are reliant on marine habitats, though some will enter estuaries and rivers in search of food. An outlier is the Baikal seal, which spends its whole life in Lake Baikal, a freshwater lake in Siberia.
“They may come at you, they may even try to hug you, but they’re just playing,” said our dive guide. “They might even try to nibble — don’t pull your hand away, their teeth are sharp.” In other words, swimming with sea lions is safe — until it’s not.
Some seals do enjoy paying around with humans simply because they can be playful animals, but that does not mean you should get close to them and touch them. Elephant seals , leopard seals and sea lions are the most dangerous especially during breeding season. If you wanna pet something go to a petting zoo.
Sea lions (left) are brown, bark loudly, “walk” on land using their large flippers and have visible ear flaps. Seals have small flippers, wriggle on their bellies on land, and lack visible ear flaps. Secondly, sea lions have small flaps for outer ears. The “earless” or “true” seals lack external ears altogether.