Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sea Lions

By Jamie

We saw a lot of sea lions and some fur seals while we were in The Galapagos.  I like them because they look so cute and they come sooo close to you!  Most animals in the Galapagos aren’t scared of humans because humans only started coming to the Galapagos about 500 years ago.

The first picture shows a sea lion that visited us on our boat.


The next picture is from Isla Genovesa (Isla means island in Spanish).


Male sea lions can weigh up to 550 pounds.  Females are smaller.  They can be about 5 to 8 feet long.  They’re related to California sea lions, but Galapagos sea lions are a little bit smaller.

Breeding

Males compete to get and keep a territory.  The territory is for breeding with a harem.  A harem means a lot of females, typically between 5 and 25.  Males keep their territory for only a few months because it takes a lot of energy and they can’t eat while defending a territory.

They breed from May to January.  Females have a single pup each year.  The mothers nurse for 11 months.

The population of sea lions ranges between 20,000 and 50,000.  One of the big threats to them is El Niño.  El Niño is a warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

El Niño hurts the sea lions because the fish they eat move further underwater to avoid the surface because it is too warm for them.  It takes a lot of energy for the sea lions to go far underwater.

El Niño happens about every two to seven years.  But these El Niño events are usually weak.  Major El Niño events happened about 30-40 years apart until 1972.  Since then they have happened about every 10 years apart.  People think that it is happening more frequently now because of climate change.

A sea lion was playing with us while we were snorkeling.  It came two feet away!  It was sooo cool!

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