Sea lions go with the flow: Hikers watch as dozens pour out of cave into ocean inlet

The spectacle of dozens of sea lions pouring out of a cave into an ocean inlet on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast amazed visitors who captured the scene in a short video.

Gillian Legendre of Campbell River came across the sea lions while hiking near Port Renfrew in late January with boyfriend Chris German, and posted the video on Facebook. The two had decided to hike along an old logging road and followed a small trail that branched off to the waterfront.

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“Once we got to the ocean, we could see sea lions all over the rocks,” Legendre said.

They continued walking and saw the cave. Legendre figures there were at least 100 sea lions on the rocks and about 50 in the cave.

Legendre, who also saw elk the following day, said the two often explore Vancouver Island and have come across lagoons and waterfalls. “We are just left with amazement and awe with what we experienced that day.”

Pete Hovey, owner of Trailhead Resort, a fishing lodge and hotel in Port Renfrew, said it’s not unusual for sea lions to congregate in caves along the coast. Females whelp their pups in caves, he said, and pups stay there when the females head out to sea to catch food for them. “It’s kind of like a babysitting cave, a day care.”

Whelping season is typically from May to September, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Sea lions around Port ­Renfrew are predominantly Steller sea lions, Hovey said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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