Learn about Stellar Sea Lions
The Steller sea lion, also known as Steller's sea lion
or the northern sea lion, is a species of sea lion that
can be found on and near coastal regions in the northern
Pacific ocean. Its scientific name is Eumetopias jubatis,
and it is the only species belonging to the Eumetopias
The Steller sea lion is the largest species of sea
lion, with adult males measuring anywhere between 9.3
and 10.7 feet in length, with an average length of 9.8
feet, and weighing between 990 and 2,470 pounds, with
an average weight of 1,199 pounds. Females are slightly
smaller, measuring 7.5 to 9.5 feet in length, with an
average length of 8.2 feet, and weighing between 530
and 770 pounds, with an average weight of 580 pounds.
Males are also generally wider in form than females.
A carnivore, the Steller sea lion subsists predominantly
on a variety of fish and cephalopods. It tends to prefer
to prey on schooling fish, but is an opportunistic hunter
and will feed on whatever sufficient food sources are
available. In rare cases, Steller sea lions prey on
otters and seals. The Steller sea lion has few natural
predators, being at risk to predation only by sharks
and killer whales.
As marine predators, the Steller sea lion is well equipped
to hunting and living in the water. A testament to this
idea is the fact that it can dive deeper than 600 feet
in the ocean to locate food. Steller sea lions have
very thick layers of blubber as well as dense fur coats,
both of which serve to protect them from the cold of
deep northern waters.
Steller sea lions gather to breed in May of each year,
at which point sexually mature males venture to distinctly
defined breeding grounds in which they each define their
own territory. Female Steller sea lions later join the
males, and are able to move freely between territories.
Males may each mate with multiple females. Pregnant
females may also give birth on breeding grounds, mating
again about a week or two after giving birth.
Interestingly, eggs fertilized in Steller sea lion
mating do not implant in the female's uterus until the
fall. Females typically give birth to one pup at a time,
though twins occur infrequently. Mother Steller sea
lions nurse their newborn pups for about two weeks,
after which they acclimate their pups to greater distance
from their mother. Young, however, can remain with their
mothers for up to four years. The weaning period varies
greatly in length among Steller sea lions.
Steller sea lions are currently considered near threatened
by the IUCN. A more specific assessment comes from the
Endangered Species Act, which categorizes the eastern
population of Steller sea lions as threatened and the
less abundant western population as endangered. This
classification largely comes from a sharp, unexplained
drop in the Steller sea lion population near Alaska.
Meanwhile, the eastern population has faced a recent
increase in population that in 2013 caused the Steller
sea lion to be removed from the U.S. Endangered Species
About the Author
Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals http://www.wildlife-animals.com
an educational wildlife and animal website.