Steller's Sea Lion - Petersburg, Alaska
The Stellerís sea lion is the largest member of the eared seals. They are called sea lions because males resemble an African lion. The adult male has a large head, neck, and shoulders.
Longer, coarser hair grows on the neck and shoulders giving the impression of a mane like a lion. Stellerís sea lions are yellowish to dark brown. The female is the smaller of the two, averaging just over eight feet in length and weighing over 580 pounds. The male can grow over 11 feet and weigh over 1,200 pounds.
Since the 1970ís the population of Stellerís sea lions has declined by almost 70%. Scientists have several theories for why numbers have declined but no real proof. They have observed that the southeast Alaska sea lion population has stabilized or increased. Since 1972 when the Marine Mammal Protection Act was past, the National Marine Fisheries Service has been protecting the Stellerís sea lion. There are specific rules for observing Stellerís sea lions from land and from the water. The regulations protect the Stellerís sea lion when they are Ďhauled outí on land and when they are searching for food. Charters from Petersburg, Alaska like Alaska Sea Adventures and Petersburg Creek Charters, can take you to see Stellerís sea lion haul outs and will follow all of the viewing regulations. These types of trips also afford an opportunity to observe other marine mammals such as the humpback or killer whales which summer in the ocean waters around Petersburg.
In Petersburg, Alaska, the Stellerís sea lions often come to you. During the summer, Stellerís sea lions follow fish into the harbor at high tide to feed. Many visitors are startled when a sea lion suddenly pops its head out of the water and blows like a whale.
The spouting clears salt water from the nose so the sea lion can breathe. When pursuing a tasty fish dinner, Stellerís sea lions dive and surface often. If you are walking along any of the docks in Petersburg, Alaska at high tide in the summer time you may be surprised to see a Stellerís sea lion swimming or playing in the water. They do like to play and may spend several minutes at the surface rolling or watching you. while near Petersburgís South Harbor fish cleaning table near the boat launch ramp is a common occurrence. Regulations state that you canít follow a Stellerís sea lion or harass it in any manner. However, when a Stellerís sea lion surfaces near you, it is legal to stop and enjoy this beautiful marine mammal.
If you are walking along the dock and see a Stellerís sea lion sitting on the dock, back away carefully. The rear flippers on the Stellerís sea lion turn forward so they are able to walk on land. I f you get to close, you may be surprised how fast a 1,200 pound animal with large teeth can move on land. Stay well back so you donít harass them while you take that once in a lifetime wildlife photograph.
If itís raining or you donít want to walk along the docks, try having a meal at Northern Lights Restaurant on Sing Lee Alley. Donít let the name fool you, Sing Lee Alley is not really an alley but a wooden road over Hammer Slough. When you arrive at Northern Lights Restaurant, go and sit by the windows. Many times while you are enjoying your meal, you can watch a Stellerís sea lion search for its meal. On sunny days, you can sit outside on the patio and watch for sea lions. Even if the sea lions donít appear, you will still have a great opportunity to view harbor seals, bald eagles, waterfowl sea birds and the activity in our busy Petersburg harbor.
So plan your next vacation or holiday around an extended stay in the Petersburg, Alaska area. An exciting part of Alaska with many things to do for the whole group.