Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there.

California Sea Lions Barking Underwater – video!

This posting is typical for why I set up this blog (and the identity of “The Marine Detective”). I want to share what I learn from my marine adventures.

I was diving off Northern Vancouver Island when my buddy and I had a “swim-by” from several male California Sea Lions and one male Steller Sea Lion. 

Many of you know that the two species can be discerned very easily because California Sea Lions bark and Steller Sea Lions growl. Yep, you could  be blind and determine which sea lions species is present. 

You can’t miss the barking of California Sea Lions when they are on land. 

What I hadn’t fully realized was . . . you can hear them bark underwater too!

See my video below./strong>

Please note that it is against my ethics (and the law) to target seal and sea lion haulouts for the purposes of diving with them. This certainly constitutes “disturbance” of marine mammals and also leads to the animals losing their wariness and becoming habituated to humans. This has led to significant human injury. It definitely does not help the seals and sea lions either to be habituated to people as there are those who believe there are “too many” and that they should be killed. 

However, sometimes, as a result of being in their ocean, we have unexpected encounters like the one videoed here.

Update 2018: The amended Marine Mammal Regulations (federal law) now specifically include: “No person shall approach a marine mammal to, or to attempt to: (b) swim with it or interact with it.” 

15 Responses to “California Sea Lions Barking Underwater – video!”

  1. Jillian Brown

    WOW! I LOVE your blog! The video footage is magical- thank you for sharing your amazing dives with us! The juvenile stellar sea lion footage was taken on my birthday! What a treat to be able to watch it glide and fly through the water. On that same day, I was at the beach watching the sea lions from the surface, with their flippers out, splashing around in the sun, rain and hail. I know how blessed I felt to see little bits of them, and I can only imagine the joy and awe you felt seeing them in their domain. If only we could be so graceful and perfect in our environment. This blog is a gift- I can’t wait for more!

  2. Theresa Southam

    Made me all shivery. Is it cold down there? What do you think the sea lion was saying?

    Theresa Southam
    More of a freshwater explorer…

    • jackiehildering

      Currently around 7 degrees C. I fear to think about what the sea lions are “saying”. Indulging in a little anthropomorphism and fantasy – I suspect it has something to do with how ridiculous we look in our sea lion inspired diving get-ups.
      Warm wishes to you!

  3. Jeanne Alley

    Wow. I didn’t realize they could bark underwater either! When we call out, we need a breath between shouts. I’m puzzled.

    I’m so happy to have found your blog Jackie. Can’t wait for more!

    huge fan

    • jackiehildering

      Hello Jeanne! So glad you asked this and should have addressed it in the blog posting. The sea lions are able to move their larynx to create the sound. The sound is amplified when they drive air over the larynx but just causing the muscles of the larynx to contract in air causes sound.

  4. ann hory

    Hi Jackie,Jeanne sent me the link, the video is amazing. I liked it so much I have sent the link to the UK, US,Australia and Germany, not to mention everyone in the school district. I am looking foward to many more viewings. Thank you Ann

  5. Taeggy

    Awesome 🙂 I love those sea lions Miss!!! Should visit you sometime and see them myself!!

  6. Marg

    Thanks so much for sharing that, Jackie! It was wonderful to be in the underwater world for a couple of minutes, so thanks for taking me there. I’m looking forward to hearing more from your blog.

    You go, girl!

  7. chance

    Hi Jackie I think that the blog was a great idea and its really cool. My gramma and I really like it. I didn’t know that California sea lions could bark under water either. 🙂

    from: Chance,Hope, Gramma, and Bumpy

    o x
    o x o x
    o x x
    o x
    o x

    • jackiehildering

      Hello Chance,

      It is so wonderful to get a comment from you. Wonderful, wonderful inspiring young humans like you are the reason I want to do “The Marine Detective”. Welcome.

      Big hugs to you, Hope, Gramma and Bumpy!!!

  8. Michelle Bigg

    Hi Jackie,

    Wow, love the new site and the videos. Thank you for bringing this new perspective to the world. I haven’t dove in years and have never seen a seal lion underwater and now to know that they bark underwater – sooo amazing. With tools like this site and Earthling Enterprises, you are a big part of getting people to care about all wildlife and our planet!

    Wondering if with you new marine detective work whether you have an aqua cam with live streaming??

    I am looking forward to learning more and seeing your great videos !

    • jackiehildering

      All because of your “The Book Project” workshop Michelle! Opened my eyes enormously to rethinking how to get out the conservation message.


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