California Sea Lion

Scientific Name: Zalophus californianus
Irish Name: leon farraige California
IUCN Status: Least concern

California sea lions are sea mammals that have large, fat, streamlined bodies, small heads, and large powerful flippers. Males are dark brown, while females and young are a uniform tan colour. Sea lions and seals are in the same family but have many differences. For example, sea lions have ears that you can see on the sides of their heads and seals don’t. Sea lions are also quicker on land than seals as they have bigger flippers to help them move their body at a quicker pace.

Sea lions are excellent swimmers and can swim at top speeds of 40 km per hour.

California Sea Lion

California sea lions are sea mammals that have large, fat, streamlined bodies, small heads, and large powerful flippers. Males are dark brown, while females and young are a uniform tan colour. Sea lions and seals are in the same family but have many differences. For example, sea lions have ears that you can see on the sides of their heads and seals don’t. Sea lions are also quicker on land than seals as they have bigger flippers to help them move their body at a quicker pace.

Sea lions are excellent swimmers and can swim at top speeds of 40 km per hour.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

The California sea lion lives in coastal areas of the western United States, from southeast Alaska to Central Mexico. They rarely go more than 16 km out to sea.

How long do they live?

California sea lions live up to 30 years in zoos and approximately half as long in the wild.

What do they eat?

California sea lions eat squid, fish and sometimes clams. They eat 5-8 % of their body weight per day (6-18 kg depending on size of the sea lion).

Group name

A group of sea lions is called a colony.

Zoo location

Sea Lion Cove.

Closest related species / sister species

The Galapagos sea lion is the closest relative to the California sea lion.

Animal class

Mammalia

Animal order

Carnivora

Fun facts

Speedy swimming

The California sea lion is a very sleek animal, faster than any other seal or sea lion. They can swim at top speeds of 40 km per hour. They normally swim around 8-10 km per hour.

Hold your breath

They can remain underwater for nearly 10 minutes before surfacing to breathe.

Follow the dolphin!

Sea lions have be known to follow dolphins to take advantage of their better food-sourcing abilities.

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Family Life

The largest male has a territory that he defends with aggressive physical displays and vocalisations. There can be up to 14 females in his territory. They live in huge colonies on rocky shores and are very social on land and in the water.

Baby name

A baby sea lion is called a pup.

Gestation (pregnancy) period

The gestation period of the sea lion is 9 months.

Number of young at birth

There is usually one pup per birth.

Weight at birth

Pups weight approximately 5-6 kg at birth.

Age at maturity

4-5 years of age.

Size male adult

Adult male sea lions weigh up to 390 kg and reach 213 cm in length.

Size female adult

Adult female sea lions weigh approximately 110 kg and reach lengths of 182 cm.

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Conservation

Least Concern

The California sea lion is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation in Nature.

Current population estimate

According to the IUCN, there are currently 180,000 mature California sea lions.

Threats

Threats include pollution, human caused injury, entanglement in nets, and biotoxins from harmful algal blooms.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin Zoo is part of a breeding programme for California sea lions.

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Sea lion pups at Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo Sea Lion Pups Swimming

The three sea lion pups Mateo, Yura and Zita have started swimming 😍😍😍

Posted by Dublin Zoo on Thursday, September 6, 2018

FAQs

  • What do sea lions eat?

    Sea lions feed on different types of fish and squid.

  • Are sea lions dangerous or friendly?

    Sea lions, while not normally dangerous, cannot actually be considered friendly towards humans; they can be curious at times.

  • Where do sea lions live?

    Sea lions live in the Pacific Ocean, from the Southern east part of Alaska to Central Mexico.

  • Are sea lions endangered?

    Sea lions are not endangered but are a protected marine species.

  • How much does a sea lion weigh?

    Male sea lions can weigh up to 390 kg and females can weigh up to 110 kg.

  • Do sea lions eat humans?

    Sea lions do not eat humans.

  • Do sea lions eat penguins?

    Sea lions do not eat penguins, they eat fish and squid.

  • How big are sea lions?

    Male sea lions can grow up to 213 cm and females up to 182 cm.

  • Is a sea lion a mammal?

    Sea lions are a mammal.

  • What eats sea lions?

    Sea lions are eaten by killer whales and large sharks.

  • Why are sea lions endangered?

    Sea lions are not endangered but are a protected marine species.

  • How long can sea lions hold their breath?

    Sea lions can stay underwater for almost 10 minutes.

  • How long do sea lions live?

    California sea lions live up to 30 years in zoos, and approximately half as long in the wild.

  • Are seals and sea lions the same thing?

    They are in the same family but have many differences, for example sea lions have ears that you can see on the sides of their heads and seals don’t. Sea lions also can move more quickly on land as they have bigger flippers than seals who have to move more on their bellies.

  • What is a group of sea lions called?

    A group of sea lions is called a colony.

  • Why do sea lions bark?

    Sea lions bark to warn of danger, to call to others, to call their pups, and for many other social reasons.

  • How fast can a sea lion swim?

    Sea lions normally swim between 8- 10 km per hour, but can swim up to 40 km per hour.

  • How long can a sea lion hold its breath?

    Sea lions can stay underwater for almost 10 minutes.

  • Are sea lions related to dogs?

    Sea lions are not closely related to dogs.

  • How fast are sea lions on land?

    Sea lions move at a pace of around 8-10km on per hour on land.

  • How fast is a sea lion in water?

    Sea lions normally swim around 8-10 km per hour but have been known to swim up 40 km per hour!

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