California sea lions are often seen around Catalina Island

Catalina Island marine life has long thrilled visitors to the island and California sea lions are one of the most fascinating creatures around. One of two species of pinnipeds commonly seen around the island, California sea lions have long interacted with humans. Big Ben, a particularly friendly sea lion, spent years befriending island residents and visitors about a century ago. He is immortalized by the Big Ben bronze statue near the corner of Crescent Avenue and Pebbly Beach Road as well as Ben’s Bakery in the Shops in the Atwater. While nowhere near as friendly as Big Ben, sea lions still seem very curious and frequently interact with people.

Mature male sea lions are several times larger than females and have much larger skulls compared to the sleeker females.  They are excellent hunters and catch a wide array of marine fishes. Sharks and orcas, or killer whales, are their only marine predators.

Their distinctive bark-like vocalizations often echo up Avalon Canyon, and they are often seen frolicking and hunting in Avalon Harbor, but the most reliable place to see to spot California sea lions is at Seal Rocks, near Catalina Island’s East End. Sea lions congregate by the hundreds there, hauling out on the beaches and rocks and wrestling over the best spots.