sea lions jumping out of ocean

Where to See Marine Life in Marina del Rey

People often ask us where are the best spots to see marine life in Marina del Rey. Did you know Marina del Rey is a perfect place for sightseeing coastal wildlife throughout the year? Whether you’re cruising the bay or strolling by the water, you can catch a glimpse of marine mammals, shore birds and more here. You never know when you’ll come upon these magical wildlife sightings. Parents, this is a perfect way for kids to connect with nature and disconnect from screens! 

Below are five places where to spot local marine life in Marina del Rey. Bring your camera and see if you can capture action shots of brown California pelicans, sea lions, blue herons and more. Post your pictures on Instagram and add the hashtag #ilovemdr so we can see your snaps. 

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pelican on a dock by the sea

1. Fisherman’s Village

This replica of a New England fishing town and seaport is a fun place to watch sea lions lounging on the docks. Walk along the paved walkway toward Marina del Rey Sportfishing’s boats to spot birds hanging out including brown California pelicans and gulls waiting to snag some bait off the fishing boats or occasionally handed out by local fishermen.

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blue whale

2. Whale watching

Sometimes the best way to view these ocean and ocean-side dwellers is to get off land and get on the water! Book a private whale watching trip or marine life cruise with a charter company out of L.A.’s Marina. Winter is the prime season to spot grey whales and humpbacks in Southern California. Dolphins, sea turtles and harbor seals sightings are also common year-round. Public whale watching tours are offered with departures every day except for Tuesdays (Marina del Rey Whale Watching is currently not open as of February 2021).  

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group of sea lions sun bathing on dock by the sea

3. Burton Chace Park

Sea lions love sunbathing at the docks along this 10-acre park featuring panoramic views of the Marina del Rey channel. Head toward the main channel and listen closely for any “barking” sounds. If you look closely and notice ears on their heads, then it’s a sea lion. Seals don’t have an external flap for their ears--and unlike sea lions who walk on their hind flippers, seals typically just belly flop around on land. 

Photo credit: @fdparkerpr

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Sunset sky with water and palm trees

4. Oxford Basin

Located between Washington Boulevard and Admiralty Way, the Oxford Basin Lagoon is a peaceful place to meander on the walking path and observe birds including the snowy egret and black night crown heron. While there, you can read about native and drought-tolerant plants from educational signs and observational decks lined around the lagoon. 

Photo credit: @reiki.paws

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Outdoor winter activities include strolling in the Aubrey E. Austin park on the North Jetty in Marina del Rey

5. Aubrey Austin Park & North Jetty

Locals know this hidden gem in Marina del Rey is a beautiful spot to get unobstructed views of the harbor’s main channel. Watch brown pelicans swoop into the water, bill first, from heights of 20 or more feet to capture their next meal. Wait a while and you may even get a glimpse of a seal playing in the channel as kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders go by. You can even see airplanes departing from LAX. Savor the view from one of the park benches, which face southward toward the flight path. The paved walkway is stroller and wheel-chair accessible and continues out to the ocean end of the north jetty. 

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