Something New – Meet The Steller’s Sea Lion

On this first video – we observed the group of four Steller’s Sea Lions from a distance, and approached cautiously. When it appeared that they cared not, we slowly moved in. They had “hauled out” when the tide was high, and then as the tide receded, they were perched higher and higher on the jagged rocks – and therefore not in such a hurry to bail off. They are also likely getting used to boat traffic observing them in this popular spot. At times, they would snuggle together – enjoying the warmth of their neighbor, and the peaks of sun. At other times, they would bark and bite one another suddenly, as if someone did the most grievous offense when the other wasn’t looking or expecting it. Boundaries are difficult with the Sea Lion!

The Steller Sea Lion is a near-threatened species of sea lion in the Northern Pacific Ocean. It is the sole member of the genus Eumetopias and the largest of the “eared seals”; it is also the largest species of sea lions.  About 70% of Steller’s reside in Alaska. The biggest males may grow to over 11 feet long and weigh upwards of 2500 pounds (I have personally seen these on Flat Island in Cook Inlet – about a 2-3 hour boat ride from the Homer Harbor) where there is a large group camped out – likely because of the ease of getting on and off this island, as well as an abundant food source nearby. The only real threat to these sea lions (other than habitat degradation) is the Orca (Killer Whale) and boat collisions.

For you science buffs – “Eumetopias jubatus” falls under this classification:

Order: Carnivora

Class: Mammalia

Family: Otariidae

Phylum: Chordata

I typically see Steller’s Sea Lions come into Kachemak Bay once or twice per season – but normally, they appear to be “just passing through.” I have seen them around Gull Island National Bird Sanctuary, as well as in the far reaches of Sadie Cove and Tutka Bay – “doing their thing chasing salmon.” They appear to be curious about the boat from time to time, but generally speaking – they take “evasive maneuvers” if you try to pursue them.

So I feel fortunate that this group of juveniles/subadults seems to have found a place to hang out in Kachemak Bay, and perhaps they will persist throughout the summer. This will provide me with one more wildlife species to thrill my guests, and after all, they are MUCH MORE impressive than the Harbor Seal – who are always lazing about, creeping about AND trying to steal my fish.

Hope you enjoy the two short videos, and lets hope they stick around for your trip with me. Remember – this could be you at majestic view!

On this second video – we circled the island to the upwind side, and did a “Drift Through” passing within mere feet of these amazing creatures. I returned on a Majestic View Adventure the following day, but the quartet was gone. I figured they would be gone for good, but the following day – on a third adventure, well, there they were again, in the exact same spot. This time, we observed one of them doing a balancing act on all four, as it scratched it’s belly and nether regions on a jagged rock. One observed the other, thought it looked like a good idea, and began doing it as well. Interesting behavior!

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