5 Marine Animals You Should Expect to See in San Diego

2017-11-22 09:09:36


One of the majesties of the living within a stone’s throw of the mighty Pacific Ocean is the abundance of marine animals in an around the water. From paddle boarding to surfing to snorkeling to simply soaking up the sun on any number of our pristine beaches, you can expect to find several marine animals in their natural habitat. So next time you visit or hit the beach, be on the lookout for these San Diego “locals.”

marine animals in San Diego


Bat Rays


There are an abundance of Bat Rays off the coastline of San Diego and can be found in many locations along the shore. The area around La Jolla hosts many of these animals and are usually found at around 10-25 feet deep in and around kelp beds and along rocky formations along the bottom various coves in the region. Common features include a black or brown top with a white underbelly. You’ll also recognize the protruding head and distinctive face with a serrated stinger at the base of their body. Not to worry, though. These are strictly used for self-defense.

California Spiny Lobster


These spiny lobsters are typically orange to red in color with spiny projections extending outward from its upper shell and sides of the tail. California Spiny Lobsters also have two antennae in the front of its body. These are no joke either (common antennae are typically twice the size of each lobster’s body)! Also, unlike most lobsters, this spiny lobster doesn’t have any front claws. You can find them along the sand and mud bottoms, crevices along cliff faces, and also out in the exposed rocks and surf grass during low tides.

Garibaldi Fish: Marine Animals of the State!


Next time you hit the surf be on the lookout for the Garibaldi, Cali’s State Fish! They won’t be hard to post either as they are usually a bright-orange to an orange-red color and grow up to 14 inches in length. Find them on San Diego’s numerous kelp beds or along reefs near the many openings the sandstone rocks that outline the coast.

marine animals of San Diego


Leopard Sharks


Now, what would the California coastline be without the occasional shark! And no you won’t be encountering any Great Whites this far south. Instead, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll stumble upon the ascetically pleasing Leopard Shark. Getting their name from their thick, black elongated spots and white underbelly, they have a relatively broad and short snout and notched tail. Look for them undulating along the sandy bottom and in the La Jolla Cove’s rocky areas and kelp beds.

Sea Lions


If you’re out for a swim or a surf and a little-whiskered friend pops up to say hello, don’t be alarmed. The local sea lion population is one of San Diego’s biggest attractions and since they’ve become used to the human population over the years, very rarely does anyone ever come into conflict with them. When they’re not swimming amongst the surf, you can find them catching some rays at La Jolla Cove or perched atop any number of the rock formations in the area, typically making some noise as they do so as well.
The diversity of marine animals in the San Diego adds to the majesty of this place we call home. We’re so happy to share such an exciting and beautiful part of the world with these aquatic dwellers. We just need to remain self-aware when it comes to protecting out coastlines from pollution and aggressive development to ensure these animals are here to stay.
Interested in checking out some of these marine animals for yourself? Sign up for any one of our numerous tours throughout the area! We hope to see you soon.