Anatomy of a photo #77: Sea Lion Tongues


I have not seen many Sea Lion tongues in my time. This is one of the few. I believe this is actually a Stellar Sea Lion, one of two species we have here in California. I wish this image showed more of the tongue, but when you are paddling a kayak and the Sea Lion is bigger than your kayak and has rather long looking teeth (you can see his teeth on the post The Sea Lion Snarls… I pretty much let him do whatever he wants instead of trying to pose him.

When I took these photographs from my kayak I must admit I was thrilled and nervous at the same time. I didn’t think the Sea Lion would do anything to me, but as I said, he was much bigger, even when you put me and my kayak together. I did not approach him, he came over to inspect me and check me out (although I definitely did my share of checking out also.) This is decidedly the closest I’ve ever been to a wild Sea Lion, and it felt interesting indeed to be the object of his scrutiny.

I captured these photographs hand held, as tripods are rather impractical in a kayak. Shutter speed was high- 1/1250th so that I could freeze any water droplets (which I did in some other images of this big guy), and to prevent camera shake in my images. Aperture was set to f/8 to give at least a little depth of field. The lens was a 300mm with a 1.4x converter for a total of 420mm

There are times when Sea Lions don’t make me nervous in the least, like when I came across the languid Sea Lion.

For more animal tongues, you can have a look at these animals-

River Otter tongue
Gull’s tongue while swallowing a whole starfish
Tule Elk tongue
White-tailed Kite tongue (it’s a type of bird/hawk/raptor
Song Sparrow tongue while singing

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in Anatomy of a photo, kayak photography, nature photography, sea lions, tongues and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Anatomy of a photo #77: Sea Lion Tongues

  1. Vicki says:

    This tongue roll you’re on is great! Looking forward to more unusual tongues in the future. Thank you very much.

    • I am glad you are enjoying the animal tongues. The postings were inspired by a small show I have hanging right now, where each animal is showing it’s tongue in one way or another. It always gives me a smile when I get home from shooting wildlife to discover a good tobfu photograph or two

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    WOW!! What a cool experience to be that close in real life!!! Must have been exciting! Excellent captures and so very crystal clear!

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