Sea lions are part of the wild animals of the ocean, coming from the same family of seals and walruses that inhabit the coasts of different parts of the world. In this post, we will talk to you in great detail about their characteristics, habitat, type of food, reproduction, and other curious facts about the sea lion. Read on and learn more about these amazing wild animals.
Characteristics of the Sea Lion
The sea lion is considered a pinniped animal, which means it has fins and is also classified as a carnivorous marine mammal. Sea lions like to live in tight groups, which are known as “colonies”; which have a large number of smaller groups within them.
Generally, a sea lion can dive to about 150 meters in search of food in the depths of the sea. They are also able to stay underwater for almost 40 minutes before heading to the surface for a breath of air. They do this because they can instinctively squeeze their nostrils when they enter the water, and these will remain closed until they need to get out of the water in search of air to breathe.
On the other hand, they are fast swimmers, as they can reach a speed of up to 40 km per hour when swimming; but this happens when they feel threatened by other predators and must flee. They usually move at 10 km per hour.
To the naked eye, the sea lion is considered a sluggish animal, as it likes to sunbathe and relax on the surface.
Where do sea lions live?
Sea lions can be found in bodies of water around the globe, except in the Atlantic Ocean, which is a very curious fact that so far has not been accurately explained by researchers. Some species of sea lions inhabit the subarctic regions, and others are found in warmer climates.
Speaking a little about their eating habits, we must clarify that sea lions feed on a wide variety of animals, such as squid, penguins, fish, some birds and even pups of other seals.
Male sea lions tend to have many females in their harem, i.e., they practice polygamy. In turn, females are not shared under any circumstances. In general, the male is more likely to be solitary, and when he defines his territory, the females go and join his group or harem.
On the other hand, we should mention that females give birth to a seal pup conceived in the previous season; since the gestation time is 11 months, and after a few days they can mate with the male to start the cycle again.
Concerning the offspring, they are born on land and can weigh up to 20 kilos, which is an ideal weight for a perfectly healthy offspring. Then, at one year of age, they can easily weigh 100 kilos and measure almost 2 meters in length.
Gestation and offspring
On the other hand, it should be mentioned that females give birth to a seal pup conceived in the previous season; since the gestation time is 11 months. After a few days, they can mate with the male to start the cycle again.
As for the young, they are born on land and can weigh up to 20 kilos, which is an ideal weight for a perfectly healthy sea lion pup. Then, by the time they are one year old, they can easily weigh 100 kilos and measure almost 2 meters in length.
Sea Lion Predators
When leaving shallow waters to find food, sea lions are more exposed to the dangers of the sea. Recently, however, man has become the main predator of sea lions, something that has been increasing in the last decade.
Species of Sea Lions
There are seven known species of identified sea lions. Unfortunately, one of them has already become extinct. This would be the Japanese sea lion, and its end is undoubtedly a wake-up call to researchers and talkers. However, they are extinct since the 1950s, and it has only been in the last ten years that the best efforts have been made for their survival.
Steller Sea Lion
It is the largest of them all, living in the North Pacific, especially around Alaska. They were first discovered in 1741, and the number continues to decline. Researchers are unable to identify the cause of this drop in numbers, so they are focusing more attention on these animals. Hopefully, careful observation will give them the answers they need.
Australian Sea Lions
This species can only be found along the south and west of the Australian continent. Only about 10,000 of these sea lions remain, and they are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1972. One of the main reasons why their numbers are so low is because males often kill pups because they see them as a threat to their domination.
South American Sea Lion
It is more frequent in the area of Peru. They have a decent population of approximately 265,000 individuals. There are indicators that their numbers have increased throughout Chile and Argentina. Their greatest threat comes from humans, as they tend to compete with fishers for food available in that country’s waters.
New Zealand Sea Lion
They have been under protection since 1890. At that time, they are very close to extinction. Even with these efforts, the numbers are rising at a prolonged rate. Today there are only about 18,000 of these sea lions.
California Sea Lion
It is the best known, as tourists come from all over to see them in their natural environment. In this area that has done everything possible to help protect the natural habitat of these animals, these are the types of sea lions that people usually see in zoos, circuses, working with the military, and learning tricks to show them in shows.
Galapagos Sea Lion
It is only found in the Galapagos Islands and the Silver Island. It is said to be the most social of all sea lions and also the species with the highest number. They are protected by law but are sometimes threatened by various types of destructive climates in that area.
In 2002, a fascinating mixture of sea lion was found by researchers. After extensive research, scientists in France found it to be a hybrid species. These sea lions are a cross between the California sea lion and the South American sea lion; however, we do not know much more about them, this hybrid is so rare that it makes it very difficult to observe in depth.
Many of the different species of sea lions are in danger of extinction. This is why there are so many efforts to help preserve their natural environment. There are also efforts to prevent hunting or damaging sea lions. So far, these efforts have been successful, but there is still much more we need to do to get their numbers out of the danger zone.
Relevant Information about the Sea Lion
About sizes and weights, it should be mentioned that males can weigh between 700 kilos and 1 ton. They can also be up to 3 meters long. Females, on the other hand, tend to be smaller in size, weighing approximately 300 kilos and measuring up to 2 meters in length.
A sea lion can usually live up to 18 years in its natural habitat; when in captivity, however, its life expectancy increases to about 23 years.
Another curious fact is that sea lions can suffer from many diseases that are common in humans, such as epilepsy, pneumonia, and some types of cancer. However, it has been shown that puppies are immune to these diseases as long as they continue to feed on breast milk.
On the other hand, plastic is a significant threat to sea lions, as they can accidentally swallow it, and this triggers a wide variety of digestive and gastrointestinal tract disorders.