California Sea Lions
Latin Name: Zalophus californianus
How often and when do we see them
These sea lions are frequently sighted around the local waters and coastline, most commonly during the fall and winter months and are regular inhabitants of the marine reserve, Race Rocks.
Size & Description
The California Sea Lions are Otarrid (eared) Pinnipeds that are commonly sighted around Vancouver Island during the fall/winter period, and they are very well known for their intelligence and playfulness. Their range extends as far north as Vancouver Island and goes as far south as the Galapagos Islands. Their breeding times last through the spring and summer and are known to be on coastal islands in more tropical and sub-tropical waters. They are quite easy to identify with colour ranging from a chocolate brown in males to a more light brown in females.
Their barking is more of a yelping noise. This is the most common sea lion noise that people recognise due to the fact that most of the trained sea lions in Marine Amusement Parks are California sea lions.
Males can reach 7ft (2.1m) in length and weigh up to 850lbs (350kg), whereas females reach 6ft (1.8m) and weigh approximately 220lbs (110kg). Both males and females have an average lifespan of approximately 30 years in the wild.
Diet & Feeding
California sea lions’ diet is comprised of a variety of fish species including salmon, herring, rockfish and hake, among others. Squid species are also a favourite food source for these sea lions. They are relatively shallow divers compared to their seal relatives, with dives ranging between 20-100m in depth and length lasting up to 5 minutes.
Speed – California Sea Lions are the fastest Pinniped in the world, clocking speeds up to 25 miles (40km) an hour. They are incredibly social, hanging out in large groups closely packed together on land or on the surface of the water, which are known as “rafts”.
Threats & Conservation
Currently, the population of California sea lions is growing and according to the IUCN red list is not under threat.