Sea Lion Caves

11 miles North of Florence

Highway 101, OR

September 16th, 1998


HavingMap name passed from Washington into Oregon along the famed Highway 101, we came upon one of those natural phenomenon that are worth checking out. On a summer day in 1880, an inquisitive Captain William Cox piloted his boat through the cave's western entrance and found himself in one of the largest sea caves in image-01the world. When daylight penetrated the north, south and west entrances, Cox must have gazed in wonder at the flooded two acre floor of the cave and the rock ceiling, 12 stories (125 feet) above. When arriving, the main parking lot is small, but there is ample parking cut out of the rocks on the image-04 other side of the street. The tour starts at the main building and gift shop, and includes some stairs and an inclined scenic pathway which takes you to the elevator The elevator carries you down 208 feet into the extraordinary sea cave. For the most part, sea lions move into the cave for protection against weather and rough seas during fall and winter. In spring and summer they may be found on the rockimage-02 ledges, just outside, where breeding and birthing take place. On the ledges, the best territories are held by the most powerful bulls, and a bull may take charge of 20 to 30 cows during the breeding season. Thus genes that pass to the next generation emphasize size and strength. Bulls weigh 500 to 700 pounds and they bark like dogs. They can image-03be trained as skilled performers and are known as circus seals. Each year Seal Lion Caves is a refuge for California Sea Lion bulls which arrive in late summer to winter here. Bulls have massive shoulders and manes of coarse hair around the neck. During a 20 to 24 year life, they average 1500 lbs., but may weigh more than a ton. Cows weigh 500 to 700 lbs. Pups are 40 to 50 lbs. at birth and are slate gray. Sea lions feed almost exclusively on bottom fish. Powerful swimmers, the strongest of the bulls swim as far as 4000 miles to winter off the coast of Alaska. Returning in late spring for the breeding season, they rejoin the rest of the herd which has remained here.

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