12:22 PM: Those are just a few of the sea lions hanging out off Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook (4503 Beach Drive SW) this midday, some “sailing” while taking a break from an all-you-can-eat brunch. Birds too:
Consensus so far seems to be that they are feeding on spawning herring.
That would seem to be borne out by the water color difference you can see in this reader-contributed video from Terence:
P.S. Thanks for all the tips on this!
ADDED 4:32 PM: Kersti Muul sends this photo of herring eggs on the shore:
And from Erica Sokoloff, two more Beach Drive sights – first, a tern (those are the birds with the prehistoric-sounding screech); second, a sea lion nosing out of the water:
ADDED LATE SUNDAY: Aerial view from “Diver Laura” James:
We asked Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network‘s David Hutchinson about the phenomenon:
The Hotline has had a number of calls recently about sea lions offshore, with people expressing concern that they were entangled or injured. We encourage people to call and report these sightings to the Seal Sitters Hotline (206-905-7325) so we can keep track of this activity and just in case a sea lion is actually in distress. A couple weeks ago, our contact at WDFW reported there were herring spawn events in the area (Purdy, Indianola, Case Inlet) which are likely attracting those large numbers of sea lions. Most of these animals will be heading out of our area within the next month.