Northern or Steller Sea Lion

Stellar Sea Lion

Northern or Steller Sea Lion

The Northern or Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) is an extremely rare sight in the park, but they have been recorded hauling out on rocky outcroppings near the Point Reyes Lighthouse, Sea Lion Overlook and Chimney Rock. 

Steller sea lions are found in the coastal waters of the North Pacific Ocean from Japan to central California. They are sometimes confused with California sea lions, but are much larger, lighter in color and they have a blunt face and a boxy, bear-like head.  There is a big difference between males who may grow to 11 feet in length and weigh almost 2,500 pounds, and females, who are much smaller and may grow to nine feet in length and weigh 1,000 pounds.  Adult male Stellers have a bulky build and a very thick neck with longer fur that resembles a lion's mane, hence the name "sea lion." Their pelage or coats tend to be light tan to reddish brown in color. 

Breeding occurs along the North Pacific Rim from Año Nuevo Island in central California to the Kuril Islands north of Japan, with the greatest concentration of rookeries (breeding grounds) in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. Dominant mature males maintain territories for one to two months and mate with many females, forgoing all eating during this time. Pups are typically born in spring and summer and weigh 35-50 pounds. Mothers stay with pups for one to two weeks before hunting at sea. Pups usually nurse for a year, but some continue to nurse for up to three years. Mating occurs 10-14 days after the pups are born. Steller sea lions eat a variety of fishes, invertebrates, and occasionally other pinnipeds. 

Known predators are killer whales (orcas) and white sharks. Common threats to the species include: predation, disease, changes in food supply, disturbance to haul-out sites by commercial and recreational use, ship or boat injuries, and environmental changes such as rising sea levels. Marine mammals, including harbor seals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which makes it illegal to hunt, harm or harass any species of marine mammal in U.S. waters. 

Best Time to View
May - August

Best Place to View
Rocky outcroppings near the Point Reyes Lighthouse, Sea Lion Overlook and Chimney Rock.