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Watch one of our sea lion training sessions

Watch our sea lions as they play in their beach-side pool at California Cove. Or catch them in a training session with their keepers and learn all about their behaviours and the fragile marine habitats they rely on. They train in the pool and in our new indoor demonstration area – their very own fisherman’s wharf.

Meet our sea lion family

We have five sea lions in California Cove – our adult male Oscar, two adult females Luce and Ineke, and our two cheeky pups Otis and Barney. The pups were born here at the park in 2023 and are the first sea lion pups to be born in Scotland for over 20 years.

Otis and Barney can often be spotted playing with each other and, although they don’t quite know what they’re doing yet, will often try and join in with the adults’ training sessions.

Why do we train our sea lions?

An adult sea lion can weigh up to 300 kilograms, so we need to be able to handle them safely. Their training prepares them for things like veterinary check-ups, and provides valuable mental stimulation. They’re even trained to voluntarily present specific body parts, like flippers, teeth and eyes. Of course, the sea lions don’t have to take part in daily training if they don’t want to, but usually they love their sessions – and all the fish of course!

Sea lions in the wild

In the wild, California sea lions rely on a carefully balanced environment, which is now increasingly under threat. As well as giving us vital research data, our sea lions help us spread the word about marine biodiversity and the dangers of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Though slightly less graceful on land, sea lions are some of the most talented swimmers in the animal kingdom. Their specially adapted flippers act like wings as they move them up and down to guide them through the water. As most of their food is found in shallow waters, they usually stay near the surface and only submerge themselves for three minutes or less. But, if they need to, they can hold their breath under the water for as long as ten minutes.

California Cove - a cutting-edge sea lion habitat

In 2022 we completed one of our most ambitious building projects at the park – a brand new habitat, specially designed to house our breeding group of sea lions. California Cove includes a large outdoor pool with a state-of-the-art filtration system that’s designed to replicate natural salt water.

What behaviours can you spot?

The habitat features a waterfall, as well as dry beach areas to encourage natural behaviours like basking and porpoising.That’s when the sea lion, to build up speed, swims quickly in and out the water. And with glass viewing walls, everyone can share the joy of seeing these acrobatic swimmers at their best.

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