Where to Meet Your First Sea Lion
They’re playful, furry and cute. They love piling on top of each other and making loud noises. And they’ll do whatever you tell them to do as long as you give them a treat. Sound like someone you know? With so much in common, it’s no wonder our little mammals are drawn to these cute creatures from the sea. If you and the kiddos really want to experience some cuddly sea mammals, skip the boring aquarium show and the hoards of tourists at Pier 39. The Marine Mammal Center is a wonderful way to see these beautiful creatures and learn more about what we can do to protect them.
Perched upon a hillside in the Marin Headlands, The Marine Mammal Center is a private, non-profit hospital that rescues and rehabilitates harbor seals, elephant seals, California sea lions and other marine mammals with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. With a classroom, educational programs and space for over 200 animals (not to mention a spectacular view of Rodeo Beach), it makes for a fun and educational marine excursion.
What to Do
Take the docent tour ($7, free for kids 4 and under) and learn about how pups separated too early from their mother are trained to survive in the wild. See how trash and toxins affect their health.
Watch the animals lounge and scoot about their quarters and, if you’re lucky, feed and interact with a trainer. Examine skeletons, pelts and preserved specimens in the classroom. Do a little coloring. The docent tour is offered 2-3 times a day (check here for details.)
When to Go
The center is open every day from 10:00am-5:00pm. The number of animals onsite varies throughout the year and is at its highest in early spring. Admission is free.
Make a Day of it
If you have the time, the Marin Headlands are bursting with opportunities for adventure.
- Check out the lighthouse and fantastic views at Point Bonita and explore WWII-era military batteries.
- Learn about Miwok culture and the plants and animals around you at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center.
- Explore the rainbow rocks and tide pools of Rodeo Beach.
Plan your visit to the Marine Mammal Center and share what you saw in a comment below.
Photos courtesy of Neil and The Marine Mammal Center via Facebook