Paul and I enjoyed taking a walk along the La Jolla coast in June with a variety of ice plant in bloom on the cliffs.
Part of the La Jolla coast walk is the Children’s Pool. It is protected by a sea wall built in the 1930s for a safe place for children to swim. However, the area filled with more sand than anticipated over time. Seals have gravitated toward the calm water and have sort of taken over the area.
You can walk down on to the sand, but a rope barrier protects the seals from humans during pupping season, The seals sunbathe on the sand and it’s not uncommon to see pups
The most obvious difference between sea lions and seals is that sea lions have external ears. Sea lions also have larger and stronger front flippers that enable them to “walk” and climb up cliffs which is why they’re so visible around La Jolla Cove. Seals move around on land by wiggling on their stomachs. They have smaller, webbed front flippers. Sea lions are brown and seals are darker grey, brown or almost black with speckled skin. If you hear barking, that’s definitely a sea lion. Seals are only capable of low grunts. Seals are typically solitary animals but you will see them in large groups here in La Jolla. Sea lions often pile up next to each other.
Just over the fence, next to the sidewalk, there is also a colony of California ground squirrels begging for handouts and chewing on the ice plant for moisture. They have strong front paws and teeth that never stop growing. Forging on tough plant matter is needed to wear the teeth how to keep healthy.
Adult seagulls have a red dot on their beaks so that the chicks know where to tap in order to get their parents to regurgitate digested food.