Sea Lion Caves

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Thursday, May 17 – Sea Lion Caves! All of us Florida Tech Biological Oceanographers have been looking forward to our road trip North along the Pacific Coast Highway (US 101).  The first stop of the morning was the Sea Lion Caves – “The largest sea cave in North America.”  There are resident and transient populations of California Sea Lions, Stellar’s Sea Lions, and Harbor Seals.

Descending the tunnel from the elevator into the portion of the cave where you can view the sea lions and sea birds

The elevator only had one stop: 200 feet down into the cliffside to the viewing chamber and lookout point.

To access the cave after leaving the gift shop, we hiked down to the elevator, and then took it down 200 ft. into the cliffside.

A couple dozen sea lions were in the cave this morning, but it can reach the hundreds!

The cave smells a bit, but that is to be expected with so many pinnipeds all in one place.

Morgan and Liza examine an ancient sea lion skeleton

The Florida Tech Biological Oceanography students seemed to be in their natural habitat down in the cave.

Heceta Head Lighthouse in the distance (and a Pigeon Guillemot colony on the white patch on the right).

There was also a wonderful view of Heceta Head Lighthouse, which was, unfortunately, under renovation (hence the strange looking canopy obstructing the view).  There are also several types of sea birds which nest in the nearby cliffs, including Pigeon Guillemots, Cormorants, and Common Murres.

Crossing the street very carefully to the parking lot on the coastal cliffside highway

The Biological Oceanograph students from Florida Tech had fun at the gift shop on the way out, and then they were very cautious crossing the coastal highway back to the parking lot!

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