Sea lions attract crowds at Vancouver’s Coal Harbour

Click to play video: 'Sea lions making a splash in Coal Harbour'
Sea lions making a splash in Coal Harbour
If you've been near the Seawall in Vancouver's Coal Harbour neighbourhood lately, you've probably seen or heard them. A raft of sea lions has made itself at home, and while they're making a splash on social media, it turns out it's not unusual for the animals to be in the area this time of year. Grace Ke reports – Jan 1, 2024

Locals and tourists who have been near the seawall in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour recently may have seen or heard some of the new marine neighbours.

A raft of California sea lions have made themselves at home over the past few weeks and they’re attracting a lot of social media attention.

However, while many may not recall ever seeing them in Coal Harbour before, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre said it’s not unusual to see the large creatures around Vancouver at this time of the year.

“These are opportunistic animals. They’re going to go where the food source is,” manager Lindsaye Akhurst said. “So there’s potentially more of a food source in that area. Obviously, lots of boat traffic, lots of people traffic. We’re really lucky to be observing them in in downtown Vancouver.”

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Akhurst said B.C. waters are a plentiful food source for sea lions. Male sea lions typically migrate up from California in mid fall to rest and hunt fish here and off the coast of Oregon. Following the herring spawn in March, the marine mammals will head back down to California for the breeding season.

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It’s unclear exactly what kind of food may have attracted the raft to Coal Harbour or how long they may stick around the area.

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The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has been working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada over the last few years to track the movement of marine life and monitor their numbers.

While the creatures have attracted crowds of people on the shore, Akhurst is reminding people that these are wild animals that can weigh upwards of 300 kilograms and that should be observed from a safe distance.

“People get quite curious. They want to get close. They want to get that classic selfie with these animals. (That’s) not recommended in any sort of way,” she said. “We really hope that people have the chance to be able to observe from a distance and just enjoy it, because it is it is kind of a phenomenon here right now.”

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She said she doesn’t believe the nearby rowing club, yacht club, marinas or sea planes will bother the sea lions that much either.

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Anyone who sees people interfering with marine life can report it to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at 1-800-465-4336.

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