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Building Environmental Stewardship Through Sea Lion Eco Tours

By Eco Tour Manager, Ida Kaller-Vincent, Ocean Connectors

Sea lions may seem ordinary for those of us living in Southern California. As locals, we are used to seeing these marine mammals dot our beaches and docks. But, there is nothing ordinary about these remarkable creatures. Males can weigh up to 850 pounds and the closest relative (apart from other seals) is a bear! They use their whiskers to navigate their environment and detect vibrations from prey. The California sea lions have 38 whiskers on each side of their face that are very sensitive to touch and water flow which can be used to discriminate between different shapes and sizes. A useful tool when hunting offshore for prey such as squid, anchovies, mackerel, rockfish, and sardines.

At Ocean Connectors we have recently launched our new Sea Lion and Harbor Eco Tour in partnership with Flagship Cruises and Events. The tour sets out from downtown San Diego and takes guests on a one-hour tour of the north bay. We pass some of San Diego’s iconic landmarks, as well as the navy docks that are a popular haul-out spot for California sea lions. It is a fun morning out on the water for visitors and locals alike. We do a deep dive into California sea lion ecology, biology, and conservation, and observe these charismatic animals as they haul out on buoys and the navy docks and play in the water. Guests are provided with binoculars, biofacts, and wildlife guides making it a fun and educational way to observe these bears of the sea!

Our Eco Tour program was created to connect locals and visitors to the ecology, flora, and fauna of our wild places here in San Diego, educate guests about local ecology and conservation efforts and inspire the public to protect our wetlands, bay, and ocean. This goes hand in hand with our main mission to educate, inspire and connect youth in underserved Pacific coastal communities through the study of migratory marine life. Ocean Connectors provides presentations and field trips for all public elementary and middle schools in National City, as well as 27 schools in Nayarit, Mexico. All our youth education is free of charge, and our vision is to cultivate a future generation of passionate, globally-aware and empowered coastal residents who take active steps to enjoy and protect ocean health. All proceeds from Eco Tour ticket sales go directly toward these youth education programs.

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