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Animals - Sea Lion

Sea Lion Facts

Kingdom:    Animalia

Phylum:    Chordata

Class:    Mammalia

Order:    Carnivora

Family:    Otariidae

Scientific Name:    Otariidae

Type:    Mammal

Diet:    Omnivore

Size:    2.7-3.3m (9-11ft)

Weight:    300-1,000kg (660-2,200lbs)

Top Speed:    44km/h (27mph)

Life Span:    15-22 years

Lifestyle:    Herd

Conservation Status:    Threatened

Colour:    Brown, Tan, Grey

Skin Type:    Fur

Favourite Food:    Fish

Habitat:    Coastal waters and rocky shorelines

Average Litter Size:    1

Main Prey:    Fish, Crabs, Squid

Predators:    Human, Sharks, Killer Whale

Special Features:    Strong jaw and the ability to walk on land

Sea Lions are found in all climates, in both the north and southern hemispheres and every ocean with the exception of the Atlantic Ocean. The sea lion is often seen around the big harbors of the world where groups of sea lions gather together to feed and bask in the sun.

The sea lion generally lives in coastal ares where there is a good food supply and land close by for the sea lion to have a rest from swimming and hunting in the water. The sea lion has 4 flippers which the sea lion is able to turn around when on solid ground, allowing the sea lion to walk on land.

The sea lion is often a popular attraction at zoos and parks, where the sea lions are generally being trained to do tricks with hoops and balls. The sea lion is a popular animal due the intelligence of the sea lion and also because of the quirky character which many sea lion individuals possess.

Today there are seven different species of sea lion found in waters around the world, These are the Steller sea lion which is also known as the northern sea lion as it is found in the North Pacific Ocean, and the Steller sea lion is the largest sea lion species; the Australian sea lion which is a small species of sea lion found on the south and west coasts of Australia; the South American sea lion, also known as the southern sea lion and is found along the west coast of South America; the New Zealand sea lion which is also known as Hookers sea lion is found around the south island of New Zealand and also the sub-antarctic islands; the California sea lion is found along the coasts of the north Pacific and is believed to one of the most abundant and intelligent species of sea lion today; the Galapagos sea lion is found exclusively around the Galapagos islands and is thought to be a distant relative of the California sea lion.

The only other sea lion species around was the Japanese sea lion, which was thought to have become extinct sometime during the 1950s. The Japanese sea lion was thought to have been related to the California sea lion and became extinct through hunt and the introduction of commercial fishing.

Sea lions are sleek and generally carnivorous animals although sea lions are known to eat sea weed and aquatic plants at times. Sea lions are playful marine mammals and can be observed spending hours playing in the water.

Sea lions generally gather on rocky, coastal land to breed. About a year later, the female sea lion will give birth to a single sea lion pup. Female sea lions tend to give birth to their young on land but it is not uncommon for the female sea lion to give birth to the sea lion pup in the water.

Sea lion pups are nursed by the mother sea lion until they are about six months old. Baby sea lions learn to swim when they are a couple of months old and it is then that the baby sea lions will go out and learn to hunt with the mother sea lion.

Sea lions are often seen in large groups of sea lions. Sea lions hunt in groups and in pairs and group numbers increase during the mating season. There have been instances where sea lions have been aggressive towards humans in the water. These acts are thought to be because the sea lions either want to play or they are male sea lions displaying and enforcing their dominance within their terrritory.

Sea Lion Foot Facts

The sea lion has flippers in place of where its feet would be in order to help the sea lion move through water quickly, a substance that is eight times denser than air.

In each flipper of the sea lion there are five skeletal digits, like toes, that give the sea lion more movement in its flippers but these are not always visible.

Some species of sea lion are able to rotate their back flippers forward, so they are able to actually walk on all four flippers when on land.

Adult sea lions have five claws on each of their two front flippers which the sea lion use to hook onto prey and to give them more grip when walking on land.

The sea lion uses its front flippers to propel itself through the water with the back flippers acting as stabilisers meaning that they are not used a great deal in swimming.

Sea Lion Teeth Facts

The sea lion has between 34 and 38 teeth which include incisors, canines, premolars and molar teeth.

The incisors at the front of the mouth of the sea lion are quite small but are very sharp and are used for biting down on and holding onto prey.

The canine teeth that are found behind the incisors in the mouth of the sea lion are large, conical, pointed and often slightly curved and these do most of the hard work.

The molars and premolars in the mouth of the sea lion can vary in number but are very similar and have a slightly cup-like shape.

The teeth of the sea lion are designed for grasping and tearing rather than chewing food and its for this reason that baby sea lions shed their milk teeth before birth.

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