AKA Steller sea lion, Steller’s sea lion, northern sea lion are in are viewing area all year around but much more abundant in late May to early June on their way North and again in late August through September when returning south. These male Steller sea lions average a nose-to-tail length of 3 m (9 ft.) and weigh about 700 kg (1500 lbs.). When dry, Steller sea lions are a tan to golden-brown color and darken to a chocolate brown on their flippers and underside. They appear dark brown or black when wet.
The last 3 years we have been starting to view sea otters in our area more regularly. They are still often a distance away, but the sightings are increasing with some “rafts” of them developing in areas near the western portion of our whale watching trips. These animals were hunted heavily for their fur and were completely wiped out of British Columbia waters. Re-introduction occurred from Alaskan otters in the 1960’s. They have long been protected and their numbers have been steadily increasing along the exposed BC coast and are now moving back into inside waters. They are unique in that they don’t have the insulating blubber that other marine mammals use to keep warm. As a result they have dense (over 1 million hairs per square inch) fur and feed heavily. They are important in balancing the eco-system. They eat a lot of sea urchins, which eat a lot of kelp. Kelp is extremely important as it provides cover for juvenile fish and is where the herring spawn in the early spring. With the increase in these otters we are seeing a greater abundance and healthier kelp forests.