Of course, we think that the beach is the best place on earth…

not that we’re biased or anything haha 😅. However, when we’re soaking up the sand and riding the surf, it’s easy to forget that thousands of marine species think the same! Here are 5 types of marine animals living at your local surf break: 


Dolphins are an incredible marine animalThese are by far the most fun to run into during a surf session! They are often surfing the waves, leaping out of the water and doing tricks, or gliding by playfully with their friends. While it’s never good to get too close to them, they are not typically afraid of humans and might just swim right up to your board! 

Unbeknownst to most people, dolphins are actually a type of whale! They usually travel in groups, or pods, with their friends and family. This strategy helps keep them safe from larger predators, like sharks, and also helps them catch more fish because they can hunt as a team. These happy creatures are mammals and have to come up to the surface frequently to breathe. 


Seagull perches on sea wall by oceanEver had your sandwich snatched by these birds? While sometimes they can be pesky, they are actually incredibly smart (sometimes a little too smart haha).  

Seagulls are unique because they can drink both freshwater and saltwater! Special glands in the top of their beaks filter out excess salt.  Equally talented at walking, swimming or flying, these marine animals tend to eat many types of foods. They are true foragers and eat everything from earthworms, mollusks, and fish to human fast-food! Seagulls are also extremely clever. For example, they drop mollusk shells onto rocks from up in the air to break them open so they can eat the inside. 


Kelp forestTechnically a marine algae, Kelp is a very large type of seaweed and washes up in piles on just about every beach in Southern California.

It grows on the bottom of the ocean and under the surface of the water and sometimes can reach up to 150 feet long! California has vast kelp forests off the coasts of La Jolla, Laguna, and Malibu. These provide sanctuaries and unique habitats for many types of marine life. Seals use them as a shelter from sharks and fish like to raise their young there. Kelp forests are also a special favorite of divers due to the incredible underwater sights! 

Seals & Sea Lions

Marine animals on beachBoth these intriguing marine animals can usually be spotted suntanning on the beach or coastal rocks. However, sometimes, you might see them pop their head out of the water while you’re paddling for a wave! 

Southern California has many types of local seals and sea lions. However, the two species are often misidentified. Seals have ear holes, wriggle up to shore on their bellies, and are pretty quiet. Sea Lions, on the other hand, can often be heard barking from far away, have tiny flaps covering their ears and walk on their front flippers when they are on land.

La Jolla, one of our favorite spots in San Diego to teach surf lessons, is especially known for its large colonies of seals and sea lions. Check them out and then end the day with a surf lesson with us! 

Our Part:

Wavehuggers teaches about marine animals at surf campsHere at Wavehuggers, we LOVE our marine life! Wavehuggers is an ocean-conscious surf school and we do all we can to educate the public as well as protect the animals at our local beaches. 

At our summer surf camps we prioritize teaching our campers about the habitats of our oceans and what they can do to keep them safe. Of course, our students also make incredible memories playing beach games, making new friends and catching lots of waves! By the time the week is over, your child will have a newfound respect and love for our ocean playground!

Seals and Sea Lions are so important to us that we donate the price of 1 lb of fish to the Marine Mammal Care Center for every surf lesson that we teach! MMCC picks up animals that strand on Los Angeles beaches and cares for them until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild.