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Sea lions are pinnipeds that have the ability to walk on land using their large flippers. They are characterized by long fore flippers, short and thick hair, external ear flaps, and a large chest and belly.
See the fact file below for more information on Sea Lions or alternatively, you can download our 36-page Sea Lion worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Sea lions are related to seals and walruses. Together with the fur seals, they form the family Otariidae, also known as eared seals. Until recently, sea lions were classified as a single subfamily called Otariinae, while fur seals were classified as Arcocephalinae.
- Sea lions have five genera: Eumetopias, Neophoca, Otaria, Phocarctos, and Zalophus.
ANATOMY AND CHARACTERISTICS
- The sea lion is known as the “angel of the sea” because their front flippers resemble angel wings while swimming and sometimes sleeping.
- Sea lions have external ear flaps, long fore flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, short, thick hair, and a large chest and belly.
- The ability to walk on all fours distinguishes sea lions from regular seals.
- Their coloration ranges from grey-white to nearly black, with the majority being light to dark brown.
- The size of a sea lion varies greatly depending on species and gender. Sexual dimorphism is a defining trait of sea lions. Male sea lions can grow to 2 to 3 meters long and weigh 200 to 1,000 kilograms, while females can grow to 1.3 to 2.7 meters long and weigh 50 to 270 kilograms.
- They also have very sensitive whiskers that aid in fish detection and their eyes have a reflective membrane that allows them to see in the dark underwater.
- Sea lions typically live in large colonies. They stay very close together on land and in the sea. Larger colonies may contain sub-colonies, and animals may move from one to the other at various stages of their lives.
- On the shores or rocks, the colonies are frequently seen relaxing and basking in the sun.
- When searching for food in the water, sea lions can dive up to 600 feet. They can stay underwater for up to 40 minutes before needing to surface for air. They do this by instinctively pinching their nostrils together as they enter the water. Their nostrils will remain closed until the sea lion needs to breathe air.
- Sea lions are excellent swimmers and are able to reach speeds of nearly 20 miles per hour in the water. They swim by generating power with their long fore flippers and steering with their hind flippers. Sea lions can dive to depths of 300 meters to hunt.
- Sea lions are a noisy bunch, using a variety of barks, honks, trumpets, and roars to communicate with one another. A pup can recognize its mother among hundreds of others gathered on rocky shores simply by the sound she makes.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
- Sea lions are social animals that frequently flock during the breeding season, preferring sandy beaches for their rookeries.
- Male sea lions, known as bulls in most species, will leave the sea first to stake a territorial claim on the land.
- While defending their territory, the bulls bark loudly and intimidate each other with stares and head shakes.
- Each bull will try to gather as many female sea lions, known as cows, as possible to form his “harem,” or family group. These harems can contain up to 15 cows and their offspring. Bulls are very protective of their harems.
- The female sea lion gives birth to a single pup or, on rare occasions, two pups after a gestation period of 8 to 18 months. Depending on the species, pups weigh 13 to 48 pounds and are 2 to 3 feet long at birth. They are born with open eyes and a thick coat of hair known as the lanugo. The lanugo keeps them warm until they develop blubber, which comes from their mother’s fat-rich milk.
- Pups can walk approximately 30 minutes after birth. They start swimming and fishing as soon as they can. The mother will nurse her pup until it is about six months old. The pup may spend up to a year with its mother. Male sea lions reach sexual maturity between 6 and 10 years, while females reach sexual maturity between 3 and 8 years.
- A sea lion has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
California sea lion eats salmon, hake, Pacific whiting, herring, redfish, anchovies, dogfish, squid, clams, and lamprey. Australian sea lion eats squid, cuttlefish, sharks, penguins, crustaceans, lobster, and octopus.
New Zealand sea lion eats Patagonian toothfish, Antarctic horse mackerel, octopus, seabirds, squid, and crustaceans. Galápagos sea lion eats yellowfin tuna, sardines, octopus, hake and crustaceans. Steller sea lion eats mackerel, pollock, halibut fish, sole, Pacific codfish, salmon, squid, and rockfish. South American sea lion eats squid, octopus, penguins, pelicans, and anchovies.
HABITAT AND GEOGRAPHY
- Sea lions can be found along the Pacific Ocean coastlines and islands. They have adaptations for both land and sea life.
- The New Zealand sea lion lives along the coast of New Zealand and has the smallest range of any sea lion. The Australian sea lion can be found along Australia’s western and southern coasts. The southern sea lion can be found along South America’s western and lower eastern coasts, as well as the Falkland Islands. The Galápagos Islands are home to Galápagos sea lions. California sea lions can be found off the coasts of Japan and Korea, as well as in western North America from southern Canada to mid-Mexico and in the Galápagos Islands. The Steller’s sea lion ranges from the Central California coast north to the Aleutian Islands, as well as along the coast of eastern Russia and Japan.
SPECIES AND THEIR CONSERVATION STATUS
- California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) – one of the most common sea lions that are native to western North America. They are friendly animals seen performing a variety of tricks in various locations in captivity. The species was listed as the Least Concern due to its abundance.
- Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus)– the largest species of sea lion on the planet that is also known as the northern sea lion. Males can grow to 11 feet long and weigh 2,500 pounds. It is a Near-threatened species of sea lion in the Northern Pacific.
- Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) – is the only endemic pinniped in Australia. Males have a dark brown mane around their heads. Their conservation status is listed as Endangered.
- Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) – They are the smallest species of sea lion that lives and breeds on the Galápagos Island. Their conservation status is Endangered.
Sea Lion Worksheets
This fantastic bundle includes everything you need to know about Sea Lions across 36 in-depth pages. These ready-to-use worksheets are perfect for teaching kids about Sea Lions. Sea Lions are pinnipeds that have the ability to walk on land using their large flippers. They are characterized by long fore flippers, short and thick hair, external ear flaps, and a large chest and belly.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Sea lion Facts
- Describing a Sea lion
- Sea lions vs. Seals
- Evolution of Life
- Group the Hoops
- My Favorites!
- What Kind Is It?
- Video Analysis
- Locate the Sea lions
- Take The Lead, Do Not Feed!
- Fact Check
- Sea Lion Anatomy
- Interactions with Humans
- Sea Lion Origami
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a sea lion?
A sea lion is a type of marine mammal that belongs to the Otariidae family. They are characterized by their long, narrow flippers, external ear flaps, and their ability to rotate their hind flippers forward, allowing them to move on land.
What do sea lions eat?
Sea lions are carnivorous and primarily feed on fish, squid, and crustaceans. Their diet can vary depending on the species and their habitat.
Where do sea lions live?
Sea lions are found in various coastal regions throughout the world, including the Pacific coast of North America, South America, and parts of Asia. They typically inhabit rocky or sandy shorelines, and some species also live in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters.
How do sea lions communicate?
Sea lions communicate with each other using a variety of vocalizations, including barks, growls, roars, and grunts. They also use body language, such as head and flipper movements, to communicate.
What are some interesting facts about sea lions?
- Sea lions are excellent swimmers and can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour in the water.
- Male sea lions are called bulls, and females are called cows. Young sea lions are called pups.
- Sea lions have a lifespan of up to 20-30 years in the wild.
- Some species of sea lions can dive to depths of over 900 feet to hunt for food.
- Sea lions are a protected species, and it is illegal to hunt or harm them in many parts of the world.
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Link will appear as Sea Lion Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 3, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.