The sea lion belongs to the family of seals and walruses, and lives in different regions of the world, always on the coasts. In the following article we will tell you about the characteristics, behavior and habitat of this fascinating animal.
Characteristics of the sea lion
First of all you should know that a sea lion is not the same as a sea lion, since the first ones are bigger. At the same time, they are two different species from the seal, which has less thick skin and more lateral fur, although of course all belong to the group of pinniped mammals.
The body of the sea lion it is adapted in such a way that it can retain its body heat even when submerged and at low temperature. This is because it has a very thick layer of fat under its skin (as in other animals such as polar bear), which also stores energy and provides the 'engines' to move easily in the water.
It has the ability to submerge up to 200 meters deep and remain in the water for 40 minutes without coming to the surface to breathe. Another of his records is his swim speed: 40 km / h, although on land it is quite slow, something that has earned them the nickname of 'lazy', since they spend many hours lying in the sun.
On the other hand, it should be noted that The diet of this marine mammal is composed of all kinds of animals, since it is carnivorous: squids, penguins, fish and even pups of seals or birds.
Despite its large size, this animal is part of the diet of killer whales and large sharks. In the first case the fight may be almost lost due to the dimensions of his opponent, but in the second some manage to escape the jaws of the giant fish thanks to his technique of exhaustion of the predator: the sea lion tires him so that the shark desists .
Behavior and reproduction of the sea lion
Sea lions live in groups called colonies, and one of the most striking features is that, although they have available space, they are placed very close to each other for warmth. They only attack each other because of territorial issues and, of course, during the mating season.
Precisely, in relation to reproduction, we should know that males practice polygamy, that is, they have many females in their 'harem', which are not shared with others of the opposite sex. When it reaches the coast the male defines its territory and the females join their group.
Another really curious question is that the females give birth to a calf conceived the previous season – the gestation lasts 11 months- and a short time later they join the male to start the cycle again.
Habitat and sea lion species
The distribution of this animal is quite varied and covers different coastal regions. In this way, we can find sea lions in New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Galapagos Islands or Canada. These are some of its species:
1. California sea lion
He is 'famous' for being chosen for shows in theme parks due to his intelligence, although its natural habitat, as its name indicates, is the west coast of the United States, although it also occurs in Alaska, Canada and Mexico.
It should be noted that this is a very sociable and not very aggressive animal. In addition, as for its survival, it takes advantage of being an agile swimmer to hunt hake, sardines, squid and red octopus.
2. Steller's sea lion
It is the largest among sea lions, known for its majesty and beauty, as well as its remarkable sexual dimorphism; the males are much taller and more robust than the females. They live in the North Pacific, between Russia and Japan and also in Alaska.
3. South American sea lion
The males can measure 2.7 meters and weigh 350 kilos and, although both sexes have brown fur, the young are darker. It lives on both coasts of South America -Argentina and Chile- and rarely goes away towards deep waters, since to obtain its food, which is crustaceans and cephalopods, it is kept close to the shore.
4. Australian sea lion
It is one of the least known because its colony is small and it is located in an area that is not accessible to man, in the islands of southwestern Australia. They do not migrate and remain all their lives in a range of 250 kilometers.