Blog California

Sea Lions in Rivers?

June 12, 2021

Over the weekend, I took my kids down to the waterfront at Old Town Sacramento. And it wasn’t to watch the boats or for a river cruise or anything, it was to see the sea lions.

A California sea lion and a captured Delta carp, in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel on the Sacramento River, February 2017. Not my photo, sadly. USFWS Photo/Matthew Ouano.

Wait, what? Sea lions in Sacramento? Yeah, it’s kind of weird. Sacramento is like 100 miles inland, and if sea lions wanted to stop in to pick up some tarot cards at Evangeline’s or check out the Pony Express Monument, they’d have to swim all the way up the Sacramento River. Which they actually do sometimes. Not the Evangelines or Pony Express thing, just the swimming thing.

When I first heard about this, I thought it must be a sign of something bad — maybe their food source is on the decline and they’re coming up river because they’re starving? I was totally wrong, though. Evidently sea lions have been doing this forever. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the sea lion population is a healthy 300,000, and the fact they’re in the river actually says the species is doing well, not the other way around. Sea lions tend to follow fish, and one thing we did see in the river over the weekend was a lot of fish.

Unfortunately, this is as close as we came to seeing an actual sea lion:

Better luck next time I guess.

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