ABSTRACT: Aerial and land-based sighting surveys were conducted to clarify the distribution of Steller sea lions during winter in the northern Sea of Japan, along the west coast of Hokkaido, from 2001 to 2003. Aerial surveys revealed that sea lions gathered around the Rishiri-Rebun Islands in March 2002 and 2003, and between Iwanai and Cape Obana in February 2003. Higher numbers of sea lions were also confirmed at Cape Ofuyu and Cape Kamui on the central-west coast compared to that at the haul-out sites in the 1980s on the upper-west coast in March 2002 and 2003. Additionally, fisherman observed sea lions along the coast of the Tsugaru Strait from February to May 2003, where the presence of sea lions was not reported in the 1980s. These facts suggest that sea lions have recently expanded their distribution southward. Land-based surveys at the recent haul-out sites indicated that sea lions in the central-west coast were composed mainly of adult and subadult males (average: Cape Ofuyu 75.2%, Cape Kamui 69.5%), which stayed from November 2002 to May 2003. In this area, sea lions arrived earlier and stayed longer than in the 1980s.