Mature Male Sea Lion

CarolM

San Bernardino, United States

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Artist's Description

Photo taken off Highway 1 along the California coast. Canon D40.

Sea lions Inhabit rocky and sandy beaches of coastal islands and mainland shorelines along the coasts. These animals are extremely territorial!Their territories range far and wide in both the hemispheres and in all waters except the Atlantic ocean.

The average lifespan of a California sea lion is approximately 18 years.

The male sea lion is much larger than the female. A male sea lion may measure up to 8 feet and weigh 600 lbs; a female may measure up to 6 feet and weigh 200 lbs. A size dominant hierarchy exists in the California sea lion social arena. These marine mammals are highly intelligent and trainable.

Sea lions gather in large numbers at their breeding sites, also known as rookeries. The females arrive later than the males and give birth to one offspring (that was conceived during the last cycle). Gestation period lasts 10 to 11 months. Birth can be on land or in the water. The new-born pups instantly vocalize with the mother. They nurse for up to six months on milk that does not contain lactose. Within two months, the pups swim and hunt alongside their mothers. They grow rapidly and will begin to gather in groups. They are weaned after several months, but may continue to nurse for up to a year.

Mating begins soon after the birth of a pup, as conception for the next year’s cycle starts.The breeding season takes place between May and July. During the breeding season, dominant bulls gather harems of several cows, which they protect by barking at or moving aggressively towards intruding males. Occasionally, the bulls engage in combat. Male California sea lion fights involve violent, ritualized roaring, bluff plunges and head-shaking. The females are herded into male territory by pre-appointed sea lions. Harems of about 15 or more females are thus formed. Females are ready to breed at three years, males at five. Only mature dominant males acquire females. .

California sea lions eat fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Predators: Orcas, great white sharks, and humans.

Pups remain with their mothers for about a year after which the ‘yearlings’ form playgroups for mock battles and play. The pups are initially black in color but molt their coats to light brown ones by the end of their second year. Male pups mature between 3 to 8 years but are unable to hold territory until they are 10 years old. While the others return to the rookeries each year, male pups do not return until they are 2 years old. Even then, these bachelors are isolated till they are large enough to compete for their territories. Male sea lions are polygamous.

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Artwork Comments

  • Valerie Anne Kelly
  • CarolM
  • Anna Shaw
  • CarolM
  • hereforfun
  • CarolM
  • Michael Cummings
  • CarolM
  • Morag Bates
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  • Desirée Glanville
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  • zoequixote
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  • Katey1
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  • Karen  Moore
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  • JUSTART
  • CarolM
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