California sea lions are found along the west coast of North America from British Columbia to Baja California and in the Galapagos Islands, the Sea of Cortez and the Gulf of Alaska.
They live along the coast and off-shore islands. They have been found up to 75 miles out in the ocean. They may also travel up rivers that feed into an ocean.
- They are five to eight feet (1.6-2.4 m) long.
- Average weight for males is about 660 pounds (297 kg) although they can weigh up to 1000 pounds (450 kg); females are smaller weighing an average of 220 pounds (99 kg).
- California sea lions have a torpedo-shaped body with short dark brown to light brown fur.
- By the age of five, males develop a distinct bump, called the sagittal crest, on the top of their heads with lighter brown to tan fur giving the appearance of a mane.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: More than 50 species of fish, octopus, squid, crab, clams and lobsters.
At the zoo: Capelin, herring and mackerel supplemented with vitamins and minerals as well as a manufactured ground up fish product.
What Eats It?
California sea lions are preyed on by whales and sharks.
California sea lions are highly social animals gathering in large groups called “colonies”. They often rest closely packed together on land or float together in the water. During breeding season, adult males called bulls, battle for dominance and establish territories. Each male attracts a “harem” of up to 20 females. Females gather at a rookery – a beach or rocky outcropping - a few days before giving birth. In the safety of the rookery they give birth and nurse their young.
After a gestation of nine to 11 months females give birth to a single pup born fully furred with eyes open. Newborn pups are able to move around within 30 minutes after birth. The mother stays with the pup for up to six days before venturing back into the ocean to feed. While mothers are gone, pups gather together to play. Pups and mothers identify each other by sound and smell. Pups nurse for a year even though they can begin to digest fish at three months. Under their mother’s protection, the pups will begin to venture into deeper water to feed. They leave their mother after one year. Females breed again about 21 days after giving birth and can delay implantation of the fetus for up to three months. Sea lions live from 12-30 years in the wild.