7 Animals You’ll See in The La Jolla Ecological Reserve

Witness the diverse sea life living off the San Diego coast on a La Jolla kayak tour through the Seven Sea Caves!

On our tours, you’ll meet some of the aquatic creatures that call the La Jolla Ecological Reserve home. Learn about the animals you could see during your La Jolla Kayak adventure!


garibaldi fish swimming in the la jolla ecological reserve


1. Garibaldi Fish

This infamous orange fish is California’s official state marine fish and the inspiration for the fish in the books by La Jolla resident, Dr. Seuss. Their bold and bright color make them highly-desired by aquarium owners, causing California to pass legislation to protect the garibaldi from overharvesting in 1993. Grab snorkeling gear and say hi to them in their favorite place — the kelp beds and rocky reefs around La Jolla.


Leopard shark swimming in the La Jolla Ecological Reserve


2. Leopard Sharks

You’ll recognize a leopard shark by its spots and distinctive markings. But don’t worry, they pose no threat to humans, and prefer to take bites out of crab and small fish instead. The La Jolla sea caves and surrounding area happens to be one of their favorite mating spots, so you’ll see large numbers of them June through late September. While you can watch them from your kayak, book one of our snorkeling tours to get an even better view.


Brandt’s Cormorant bird in san diego california


3. Brandt’s Cormorant

These beautiful black waterbirds live along the coast, favoring kelp beds and bays. If you’re lucky, you’ll see them dive into the ocean and swim underwater as they hunt for squid and fish. These birds love to join our La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak Tour, so you’ll likely watch their graceful hunting!


gray whale tale off of the coast of san diego


4. Gray Whales

There are only 26,000 gray whales in the Pacific Ocean, so seeing one is always a special treat. Gray whales spend their summers north of Alaska before migrating south to mate and give birth in Baja California over the Winter. During their migration, gray whales pass through San Diego from December to mid-February.  Their journey is the longest distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis! Paddle out with us on our seasonal Whale Watching Tour to see these extraordinary creatures on their migration south.


Seals and sea lions sunbathing in La Jolla, San Diego


5. Seals & Sea Lions

These adorable beasts are common to the shores of San Diego, but it’s easy for visitors to get them confused. So how do you tell them apart? Here are a few ways:

  • Noise: Sea lions are noisy, and you’ll hear them barking loudly! Meanwhile, seals grunt rather quietly by comparison.
  • Ears: Sea lions have external flaps for ears, which are quite obvious. Seals have tiny holes for ears, which you won’t see unless you get close enough, but they won’t let you!
  • Feet: Sea lions have large front flippers, and seals have furry, smaller front feet.

Our guides have a lot of knowledge about the sea life hanging out in La Jolla Cove, so if you have any questions — just ask!


Common dolphin off the coast of san diego


6. Dolphins

La Jolla is the perfect place to spot dolphins year-round. These intelligent creatures can be found playing along the coast, much to the delight of swimmers and kayakers. Head to La Jolla Cove and see how many you can count!



7. Pelicans

These large birds have a long beak and a big throat pouch used for catching their meals fresh out of the ocean. Pelicans don’t only eat fish; they’ll eat birds, turtles, and the sandwich right out of your hand! You’ll see lots of these cool creatures flying and hunting during your kayak adventure.

Join us on the water to witness these amazing creatures up close! It will be an adventure you’ll never forget.

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Questions? Contact us today: (858) 459-1114