By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung

PLAYFUL sea lion pups bask in the sunshine with their mothers in La Jolla Cove, San Diego

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The cove in California is a popular place to view sea lions in their natural habitat

The cove in California is a popular place to view sea lions in their natural habitat and capturing the strong family bonds and personalities of the beautiful sea mammals.

It was important for the photographer to keep a respectable distance from the sea lions

Photographer Jennifer Leigh Warner was able to gain the trust of of a group of sea lions and their pups and engage with them.

Sea Lions are in the Otariidae Family meaning 'eared seals'

Jennifer said: “The biggest challenge to photographing sea lions is gaining the sea lions trust enough to have them relax enough to engage in their natural behaviour.

Baby sea lions, do not know how to swim when they are born but learn when they are a few weeks old

“I have been to photograph these sea lions many times over the past few years. During this session I spent a few hours during the late afternoon photographing them. The images with pups reflect female sea lions.

Jennifer captured the strong family bonds and personalities of the beautiful sea mammals on camera

“The few images of large sea lions with smaller adult sea lions show both male and females.”

Sea lions are often found in extremely large colonies, for their protection they will stay very close together both on land and in the water.

A mother sea lion is pregnant for 12 months and they give birth on land

The big colonies also have many sub groups found within them and it is common for sea lions to move from one sub group to another during various stages of their lives.

Wildlife photographer Jennifer Leigh Warner photographed the sea lions for several hours in La Jolla

As a wildlife photography expert, Jennifer studied the behaviour of the animals and was sure to keep a respectable distance from them.

She said: “It is important to always keep a respectable distance to animals in the wild.

“Sea Lions can become incredibly aggressive and have been known to bite people.

Sea lions are often found in extremely large colonies, for their protection they will stay very close together both on land and in the water

“I have studied their behaviour and have been able to gain their trust in order to maintain a safe yet respectable distance in order to capture intimate moments.”

The average life span of the sea lion is about 20 years, but some have been recorded to live into their 30’s. Their age can be determined by counting growth layers in their teeth, just like the rings in a tree trunk.