South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens), also known as southern sea lions, are also called sea lions (Otaria byronia). These are seal-like marine animals who can swim in the water and stay on land. They range in size within the species and between males and females, adults have dark-brownish backs and light brown chests. The manes on males are more moderate than females, and females’ fur seals on their heads and necks are lighter than that of males. Males have massive heads and necks with characteristically extended noses. South American sea lions live for about 20 years. These marine animals rarely walk far from the coast, relatively talking.
In coastal areas, they tend to group in large herds, on rocky outcroppings. The astounding creature also carries mating practices and nesting practices in the same general region. The beautiful powerful animals also evolved as fully hungry carnivores and possess the same habits and patterns as their relatives. They also maintain a moderately broad diet but show a strong choice for a species of fish. They also feed on other species, though normally opportunistically. This other prey mainly involves small cephalopods, such as squids and octopuses. Occasionally, they have been seen feeding on young South American fur seals and sea birds such as penguins and pelicans. The population of these marine animal is stable as of now which is why they are listed under Least Concern.
Boat or ship strikes, pollution, habitat degradation, illegal hunting or shooting
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Coastal waters, seashores, open ocean
North America, South America, Antarctica, southwestern Africa, southern Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland islands
South American Sea Lion Interesting Facts
What type of animal are South American sea lions?
South American sea lions are marine mammals called pinnipeds that change in physical characteristics and adaptations.
What class of animals does a South American sea lion belong to?
South American sea lions belong to the Mammalia class. They have a thick layer of blubber like all marine mammals.
How many South American sea lions are there in the world?
South American sea lions are the richest marine mammal across their range. According to the IUCN Red List, the entire South American sea lions population size is around 445,000 individuals, including nearly 222,500 adult individuals.
Where does a South American sea lion live?
Southern sea lion lives in the northern Pacific between Asia and North America and off coasts of South American islands, Antarctica, southwestern Africa, and southern Australia.
What is a South American sea lion's habitat?
The South American sea lion is seen from northern Peru as far south as Cape Horn. When at sea, most of them prefer coastal waters, with adult males differing most faraway. Many breeding colonies are on Falkland Islands, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and other regions with limited human disturbance, and sandy beaches are more often used than solid beaches. They prefer ocean shores for habitat, especially during mating season.
Who do South American sea lions live with?
South American sea lions are a regular and social species that live in groups usually consisting of multiple females with one or several males who defend their colonies.
How long does a South American sea lion live?
South American sea lions have a lifespan of about 20 years.
How do they reproduce?
In biological environments, successful mating follows in males, as young as two years. In the wild, social factors greatly affect males breeding success. Males may not successfully reproduce until about nine years of age when they achieve the full size and can compete for females. For these southern sea lions, the breeding season starts from August to December. The male South American sea lion is very proactive when it comes to herding females into their zenanas. Most of these females will already be pregnant from the last breeding season. Soon after giving birth, fur seals will mate. Males with no harem of their own may band into groups and try to take over mating with adult females. They are also known to kill the pups in the group due to feeling threatened by them.
In the past, it seemed that all of the matings took place on the sandy beaches. However, experts know now that they can also mate on the hard mountains in their habitat. Adult females will nurse their young pups for about a year because they need to get ready for the birth of the next one. Pups stay on land until they are about a month old. Many of them expire due to the mothers having to go into the water to get their food. Once reaching a maturation period of 11 months, the southern sea lion gives birth to a single pup. They are detached at 6-12 months old. Male pups are known to mature later than female pups, as they generally reach maturity at six years of age, whereas female pups are mature at four years of age. Both reproductions reach their full adult size at around eight years of age. Depending on the size of the population, the death of a pup generally ranges from two to 50%. Higher pup deaths have been observed because of the greater risk of pups being crushed to death by adult sea lions. Pup deaths also occur due to starvation (when they lose their mother), predators, diseases, and drowning. Pups spend their time, staying in groups, playing, sleeping, or residing near the water. Unless guided by their mothers, they rarely swim in deeper waters. At about three to four weeks of age, they generally swim underwater, with other sea lions in a large group.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of South American sea lions are of Least Concern since their population is stable for now. In certain regions, some of the species of this animal are under threat or have gone nearly extinct.
South American Sea Lion Fun Facts
What do South American sea lions look like?
Out of the five known sea lion species, maned seals, known as American sea lion Otaria, are the most sexually dimorphic. Males of these animals are around three times the size of females. The skin is dark brown on the dorsal side and dark yellow to gold on the ventral side. The male has a full mane, which is paler color than the skin. They also have larger and more muscled necks than females. They usually have an upright body posture, with the rostrum turned upward. They generally weigh around 441-771.6 lb (200-350 kg), with a body length of up to 11 ft (3.3 m). Females' skins are also lighter in color relative to males, skin color ranges from yellowish to fair brown with some pale markings around the head. Pups do not exhibit brown body coloration until about a month after their birth. Neonates have a grayish orange ventrally and black dorsally. This skin later turns to a dark chocolate brown color. Seals and sea lions may look quite similar, but unlike seals, sea lions have small external ears, upright posture, and hind flippers, and they are social animals, unlike seals.
How cute are they?
These animal species are quite cute to look at but they can be dangerous to approach.
How do they communicate?
Sea lions communicate by utilizing different 'barks', grunts, and growls, especially when they are driving as a group.
How big is a South American sea lion?
This animal has a body size, which can reach up to 11 ft (3.3 m). They are more than 10 times bigger than king penguins.
How fast can a South American sea lion swim?
The definite swimming speed of this animal is unknown. However, they have a good swimming speed.
How much does a South American sea lion weigh?
The South American sea lion generally weighs around 441-771.6 lb (200-350 kg).
What are the male and female names of the species?
Female sea lions are called cows, while males sea lions are called bulls.
What would you call a baby south American sea lion?
The baby South American sea lions are simply called pups.
What do they eat?
American sea lion Otaria feeds on the different types of fish that are found in this region. Their foremost diet is anchovies and hake. They also feed on squid and octopuses. When these foods are limited they use small penguins in the area as well.
Are they dangerous?
Maybe you are wondering to know, they are ordinarily not a threat to humans. Sea lions feel stress, just like us. And when they have panic attacks, they may lash out. Therefore, it is better to stay far from them and also not swim with them.
Would they make a good pet?
Sea lions do not make good pets and they are rarely raised as pets unless kept in zoos. They bite with the 10 times energy of dogs, and their mouths are more disagreeable and are more bacteria-ridden than any other animal.
Did you know...
South American sea lions are also known as Southern sea lions. Marine creatures like seals and sea lions are known as 'pinnipeds' that vary in their physical characteristics and modifications. Sea lion, Otaria flavescens, often rest aboard fishing boats, sometimes sinking boats. Therefore, fishermen put up barbwires to prevent them from coming, but this causes severe injuries to the South American sea lions.
Are South American sea lions endangered?
South American sea lions are helpless to the effects of environmental change on ocean currents, which affects their fish prey plenty. They are also victims of by-catch in fisheries. They are not endangered species, but they may be vulnerable if there is a lack of food and climate degradation worsens.
Are there sea lions in South America?
South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, South American fur seals, are found along the coasts and off-shore islands of South Americafrom Zorritos in northern Peru to Ilya dos Lobos in southern Brazil. The total population is around 250,000.
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