California Sea Lion

Zalophus californianusSea Lion

The California Sea Lion is a common species of sea lion found around the gulf. They weigh lighter than some other species of sea lions, with the males averaging around 850 lbs (360 kg) and the females around 220 lbs (100 kg). Their physical characteristics include smooth skin, fleshy rolls of blubber, dog-like faces and strong, thick flippers. Unlike the similar fur lions, they do not have the same thick hairs that other sea lions do. They are massive eaters, and are known to consume almost 5-8% of their body weight in one sitting. They are indiscriminate concerning what wildlife they will eat. They are a very social species, staying in large groups and communicating with their barks.

One of their defining characteristics is their intelligence. Many of them, even the aggressive males, can be trained to perform a wide variety of tasks, from balancing a ball on their noses to detecting intruders near boats. Many of them are used in military operations, typically used by the United States Navy. They are used because they can access areas in the water that human divers can’t, and can swim quickly and undetected. Outside of military use, they are also commonly used in entertainment. Many of the performing “seals” seen in carnivals and water parks are actually mostly sea lions. They are currently protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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