The rumble was captured by a live cam that observes the nest on Santa Cruz Island off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The Los Angeles Fire Department said it went into "earthquake mode" and firefighters from all 106 of its firehouses began surveys of their territories, including bridges, dams, large buildings and power lines.
Earthquakes of such size usually occur about once a year in Southern California, although the most recent one was in 2014, according to veteran seismologist Lucy Jones, recently retired from the USGS.
The quake was felt by residents on the mainland dozens of miles away.
Although there was no significant damage reported, some bricks fell from a chimney at a historic ranch in the Channel Islands region.
Authorities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties did not report any immediate damage.
One woman said the quake's "rolling motion" caused walls to creak and items to swing in Torrance. The agency initially said the earthquake's depth was 10.4 miles, but later updated figure to 6.2 miles.
"A 5.3 could be damaging if it was right under our feet", John Vidale, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC, told reporters.
Thankfully, the same is true for the people in the Santa Cruz region who felt the shaker on the mainland, though it was the largest felt in the Golden State in several years. "We now have no reports of damage or injuries", fire department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.
The fire chief advised residents of Ventura County to be prepared for more possible tremors.
"We would expect aftershocks, and there is the potential for some triggered seismicity", Andrews said.
"Being prepared is always your best bet to help yourself".