SPECIES OF THE WEEK: California Sea Lion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe California Sea Lion lives along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico,  and Baja California and the Sea of Cortez as breeding grounds.

It is a very smart animal.  In fact, the US Navy has trained them to detect sea mines and capture enemy divers.  They are commonly found performing tricks in circuses and aquariums, where they are frequently confused with seals.  (By the way, the easiest way to tell a sea lion from a seal is that sea lions have ear flaps; sea lions also walk on their hind feet, whereas seals wiggle across the floor.)

They rarely attack humans, and when they do it is usually a single bite to the legs, as a territorial warning.  Like dolphins, they have have been seen to help people in danger of drowning by keeping them afloat.

They can live up to 30 years.  While males can measure up to 2.4 meters in length and weigh 300 kg, females are much smaller and average 1.8 meters in length and weigh around 100 kg.

Though internationally it is considered a species of “Least Concern” due to its abundance throughout its range, thepopulation in the Sea of Cortez is shrinking and sea lions are subject to special protection under Mexican Law.

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