Sea Lions really are nature's best surfers.

By Stacey Leasca
January 15, 2021
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Credit: Getty Images

Move over Kelly Slater, there's a new surfing great in town.

In early January, Southern California was hit with its usual wintertime swell, making every surfer in the region positively giddy. And that included a few of its resident seals, too. 

During the swell, a few lucky documentary filmmakers captured a pod of seals absolutely tearing up the waves in Santa Barbara. In the video, the seals look like they are having the time of their lives as they jump, dive, and ride down the face of some stellar swell.

"So much fun to watch these Sea Lions have a totally tubular time at Santa Barbara Island last week! The big swell off the California coast has turned even the Sea Lions into surfers," Pacific Offshore Expeditions wrote alongside the video, which they posted across social media. 

Ryan Lawler, the operator of Pacific Offshore Expeditions, shared with USA Today that the crew was actually looking to capture a bit of underwater footage at a remote dive spot but were surprised with this sight instead. "On the exposed side of the island, the swell was huge, but we found some sun," Lawler explained. "As we rounded the southern portion of the island, which has an islet called Sutil Island, we noticed sea lions flying out of the back of the waves. It was an awesome moment."

Lawler added, "I had never seen that before at this island, which is well known for its sea lions. So we stayed there for 20 minutes, observing and waiting for the sun to break up the fog. Then we dove for about 90 minutes and came back, but all the sea lions had disappeared."

The seals are just the latest sea creature to put on a stunning display during quarantine. In early 2020, California beaches were even visited by a few glow-in-the-dark dolphins. Now, we just have to wait and see what awesome display Mother Nature has in store for us along the West Coast next.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.