The Sea Ranch is fortunate to have a large and active community of Harbor Seals, Phoca vitulina, living along our coastline. A lot of our visitors get our Seal confused with Sea Lion. Harbor Seal is easy to distinguish from Sea Lion, Zalophus californianous. Harbor Seal is smaller, has white whiskers, does not have ear flaps, and is usually wearing a coat with a motled design, whereas Sea Lion is bigger, has brown whiskers, has ear flaps, and is usually a uniform tan (dry) or dark brown (wet) in color. There are other differences as well, but this ought to be enough to tell the two apart. We sometimes see Sea Lion along our part of the coast, but not very often. Sometimes we even see Elephant Seal, but there is not much chance of getting him confused with Harbor Seal. Elephant Seal is humongous in size and has a funny nose.
Let us introduce you to some of our resident characters. If you go for a walk along the coast you will find them at one or another of their favorite haul-outs.
As you can see, Harbor Seal is very individualistic. At maturity, he can easily be six feet long and weigh in at 250 pounds. On land he is lumbering, and ungainly, but in the water he is poetry in motion and can stay submerged for up to ten minutes. He feeds on fish, octopus, squid and crustaceans. He is obviously gregarious and thought to be promiscuous and maybe polygamous, but how the scholars figured that out is not real clear because he mates underwater.