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California Sea Lion image
California Sea Lion

California Sea Lion

(Mammal)

California Sea Lion Baby
California Sea Lion Baby

California Sea Lion Habits

The sea lion is sociable and lives in colonies which may number in the thousands, especially during the mating season. The sea lion divides its time between resting on shore and hunting for food in the ocean. Despite its heavy, awkward looking body, the sea lion can move quickly on land with the use of its flippers.
In the early nineteenth century, large numbers of sea lions were killed on the coasts of California. The blubber of the dead animals was used as a source of oil, and the skins were used for making glue. Today California sea lions are regarded for their intelligence and are well known for the playful behavior they display in captivity. Sea lions are popular attractions in zoos, circuses, and marine parks.

California Sea Lion Communication

Sea Lions have plenty of ways to send messages to each other.
They can roar, continuing to get louder and louder when they feel threatened. Roaring is a way that they can protect their territory when threatened. This is often enough to get both humans and other animals to leave them alone.
Sea Lions also know how to bark. In fact they often use this type of communication to interact with each other. The barking sounds are believed to mainly come from the males though. They use them when they are looking for females to be a part of their harem before mating occurs.
They can be heard making a variety of sounds that resemble honking and even the sound of trumpets. It is their array of sounds used for communication that can keep humans watching them for hours and hours. Sea Lions are believed to have excellent hearing both on land and in the water.
One thing that makes it hard for researchers is that Sea Lions form large groups. There is always so much communication going on that it is hard to focus on certain ones. However, this type of observation has helped them to learn many things. For example the pups are able to identify the calls and sounds on their motherís instinctively. They donít get mixed up with all the other sounds taking place. It is believed that from birth they are able to memorize what their mother sounds like. They also use smell to be able to find her.
When there is a threat to a harem or a colony of Sea Lions, loud trumpet sounds will be given. This is a signal to them all that there is danger lurking on land. Their instincts are to get into the water and off the land. It is complete chaos and many Sea Lions end up trampled in the confusion, especially the younger ones.
Researchers have been able to identify sounds that are for mating, when these animals are in distress, and when they are happy and content. There are plenty of sounds too that can be observed between the mothers and the pups. They are great caregivers that do all they can to prepare their offspring for their life ahead.

California Sea Lion Breeding

Sea lions breed from may to August. the breeding grounds, called rookeries, are situated on beaches and offshore islets. Soon after the young are born, mature bulls compete to establish territories. They use threatening gestures and fight only as a last resort.
A harem of females and young is established by each mature male. During mating, the bull has no time to feed and must survive on his reserve of blubber. About 3 weeks after her pup is born, the sea lion cow is ready to mate again. But she continues to suckle her young for about 6 months.

California Sea Lion Food & Feeding

The California sea lion has a remarkably big appetite. An averages size animal must consume about 14 percent of its body weight in food every day. The sea lion hunts by chasing its prey through the water or diving down to the ocean bottom and searching among the rocks with its muzzle. It feeds mainly on octopus, squid, and fish. Sea Lions have excellent underwater vision and hunt their prey mostly by sight. The well-developed muscles on its muzzle may also help it to locate prey by picking up vibrations in the water.

California Sea Lion Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: Males, 7 ft. Females, 6 ft
              Weight: Males, 600 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Males, 5-7 years, Females, 4-5 years
             Mating: May-June in California. October-December in the Galapagos
             Gestation: 11 months
             Number of young: One young
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Sociable in large colonies
            Diet: Octopus, squid, and fish
            Lifespan: 10-15 years. Up to 20 in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Sea lions are known as eared seals because unlike true seals who only have ear openings sea lions have small external ears.
  • A California sea lion can swim at a speed of up to 25 miles per hour. This is faster than any other species of sea lion, seal or walrus.
  • The male seal lion's territory extends into the water, as well as on land. When defending his underwater territory, he will bark, sending up chains of air bubbles as a warning to rival males.
  • Ball-balancing circus seals are most commonly California Sea Lions.
  • The sea lion has whiskers which help them to navigate and feel the movement of fish.

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