California Sea Lion

California Sea Lion is one of the most the most elegant underwater mammals. Its swimming style, changing direction frequently, looks almost like and underwater flight. These sea mammals are excellent swimmers – they can reach a speed of more than 40 km/h and dive as deep as 300 metres.

California Sea Lions can be seen near the Western shores of North America, from British Columbia to California. They reach an adequate size for seals – up to 2,4 m for males and 1,8 m for females. Their colour depends on whether they’re wet or not – when wet, the coat looks smooth and almost black, while dry it’s brownish or russet, and it’s velvety by texture. Sea Lions are more active than seals, both in water and in the water, in fact, they can even outrun a human on dry land.

These sea lions live in colonies of multiple hundred, sometimes even thousand, individuals. These groups become even larger during the mating period, when a large quantity of these animals gather in the birth areas. California Sea Lions spend their time resting on rocks or dry land and hunting. Usually up to ten individuals decide they want to go hunting and dive in the water together. Although spending much time underwater, they’re still mammals and every few minutes they need to emerge to inhale air.

California Sea Lions can live in colonies of up to even multiple=
California Sea Lions can live in colonies of up to even multiple=

California Sea Lions have a big appetite – a grown specimen eats food equaling 14% of their body mass daily. They feed mostly on fishes and a variety of cephalopods, sometimes also crustaceans. When hunting, the sea lions try to corner their prey, chasing them either in a deadlock or near other sea lions. Such a massive food intake averaging at about 30 kg of food per day is necessary to preserve body body warmth, as very much heat is lost swimming in the cold water.

The mating period of these sea lions lasts May through August and pups are born at the shore. Soon after pups are born, males start fighting for territory. Most often these disputes don’t resolve into fighting, but merely scaring each other. Each adult male has a harem, made up of the male, a few females and their pups. During this period, the males don’t have much time for feeding and they feed on the fat they’ve stored previously. California Sea Lions live for 10-15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

A sea lion mother tending after her pup
A sea lion mother tending after her pup

In the past, these sea lions were widely hunted to obtain their fat, from which oil was produced, while the skin was used to manufacture glue. Currently, the hunting has ceased and the population of California Sea Lions is increasing, both in the wild and in zoos and parks. They’re sea lions are also very intelligent and playful, making them popular among tourists.


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