Learn about Sea Lions
Sea lions are a collection of sea mammals that together
comprise the taxonomic subfamily otariinae, of the family
otariidae. There are six different species of sea lion.
They can be found in both the Northern and Southern
Hemispheres, living in coastal regions from tropical
to subarctic waters of all oceans except the Atlantic
Sea lions are born measuring two to three feet in length
and weighing anywhere between 13 and 48 pounds, depending
on their species. As adults, sea lions are more noticeably
sexually dimorphic; females measure four to nine feet
in length and weigh 110 to 600 pounds, while males measure
about six and a half to 11 feet in length and weigh
400 to 2,200 pounds. The size of a sea lion varies by
species, of which the Steller's sea lion, also known
as the northern sea lion, is the largest.
Sea lions are predators, and hunt all of their food
from the sea. They feed predominantly on fish and squid,
and also eat clams and crabs. The Steller's sea lion
also eats seals. Sea lions typically swallow their food
whole, using their flat back teeth to crush any food
that has a shell before consuming it. Sea lions eat
large quantities of food in a sitting, typically consuming
five to eight percent of their body weight at any one
Sea lions are very vocal animals, and can produce a
wide array of sounds to communicate. Sea lion pups can
identify their mothers from her unique voice alone.
Sea lions are well-adapted to aquatic life, and spend
most of their time in the water. However, they mate
and reproduce on land. Sea lions mate during the spring,
during which male sea lions of every species except
one venture onto land to make territorial claims. The
females join them on land a few weeks later, at which
point males form groups containing up to 15 females.
These groups, called harems, will become family groups
that later include their respective females' young.
The Australian sea lion bull partakes in different
mating behavior to that of the other five species. Instead
of seeking its own territory on land, male Australian
sea lions fight over any available females.
Pregnant sea lions come to land late in the breeding
season to give birth, and, later, to mate. Typically,
females give birth to one live pup, though twin pups
have been born on rare occasions. Sea lion pups gain
the ability to walk about half an hour following birth,
and can swim, albeit incompetently, at birth. During
a nursing period of about six months in length, pups'
mothers care for them dutifully and teach them vital
skills, such as swimming, hunting, and defense. Pups
are weaned after this period, but may remain with their
mothers for an additional year. On average, sea lions
live for 20 to 30 years.
About the Author
Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals http://www.wildlife-animals.com
an educational wildlife and animal website.