Temporary barriers have been placed around the perimeter of Kiddie Beach at Channel Islands Harbor for the safety of sea lions, residents, and visitors.
Ventura County Harbor Department Director Michael Tripp said the number of sea lions at Kiddie Beach has increased during the past month, and, recently, with higher than usual tides, the sea lions have been inching closer to the parking lot and street.
“The sea lions are drawing lots of admirers,” Director Tripp said. “While they are certainly a sight to see, it’s crucial to prioritize safety to ensure both human and sea lion well-being. We hope the temporary barriers will discourage the sea lions from leaving the beach and harbor waters.”
The parking lot at Kiddie Beach will also be closed at sundown to sunrise to protect the sea lions from motorists.
Dos and Don’ts of Sea Lion Encounters
Before diving into the dos and don’ts of sea lion encounters, it’s essential to grasp a basic understanding of sea lion behavior. These intelligent mammals are known for their curiosity and agility both in and out of the water. Playful antics, such as acrobatic flips and synchronized swimming, are common behaviors that make them fun to observe.
Dos for Sea Lion Encounters
- Observe from a Distance: Enjoy the spectacle of sea lions from a safe and respectful distance. (NOAA recommends 100 yards) Maintain a buffer zone to avoid disrupting their natural behaviors.
- Stay Calm and Quiet: Sudden movements and loud noises can startle sea lions. Keep noise levels to a minimum and move slowly to avoid causing unnecessary stress.
- Respect Boundaries: If you’re on a boat or kayak, be mindful of no-approach zones to protect both sea lions and humans. Adhering to these guidelines ensures a harmonious coexistence.
Don’ts for Sea Lion Encounters
- Feeding Sea Lions: Feeding wildlife disrupts their natural diet and behavior. Human food can be harmful to sea lions, so resist the temptation to share your snacks.
- Approaching Pups: Mother sea lions are protective of their pups, and getting too close can lead to defensive reactions. Maintain a safe distance to avoid any confrontations.
- Flash Photography: Avoid using flash photography when capturing images of sea lions, as it can startle and distress them.
- Chasing or Cornering: Seal lions may interpret sudden movements or attempts to corner them as threats. Always allow them a clear escape route in the water.
Did You Know?
Marine mammals such as sea lions are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Violations can result in civil penalty up to $11,000 as well as criminal penalties up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to a year or both.
Concerns about people violating the MMPA should be directed to NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.
Editor’s Note: this story was published on Sept. 29, 2023.