sealion Sea lions left San Francisco bay to enjoy the Oregon caves Throughout December, hundreds of sea lions vanished from the San Francisco bay area only to show up later in the Oregon Sea Lion Caves. The Oregon Sea Lion Caves are a connected system of sea caves and caverns located along the Pacific coast of Oregon and a popular hangout for sea birds such as the tufted puffin, pigeon guillemot, Brandt’s cormorant, and various types of gulls. The caves are also an important wintering home for the Stellar Sea Lion and – to a lesser extent –the California Sea Lion.

“We’re seeing the sea lions coming up this way from California because of the feeding. If the cold water fish move north to find colder waters, the sea lions have to eat and they follow the fish wherever they go,” says Sea Lion Caves General Manager Dan Harkins.

So, how can the cave staff know for sure who’s a visitor from California and who isn’t? Apparently, sea lions have dialects; just like us humans.

“We can identify them by the sound of their voice. They have a barking noise rather than a grumbling or a growling that Stellers do,” says Harkins.

The Sea Lion Caves were first explored in 1880 by local resident Captain William Cox. On a calm day, the captain entered the grotto through the western channel in his small boat. During a later expedition he was reportedly marooned due to stormy weather and had to survive by shooting a sea lion and eating its flippers. In 1887 Captain Cox purchased the land from the State of Oregon and the cave system has been privately owned and managed ever since.