California Sea Lion
California sea lions are faster than any other seal or sea lion. They can swim at
speeds up to 25 miles per hour. They can also make deep dives, staying under
water for up to 10 minutes pursuing fish, squid and shellfish.
Size Males can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and grow up to 8 feet long.
Females tend to be significantly smaller, weighing up to 400 pounds and
growing up to 6.5 feet long.
Diet A variety of fish, including Pacific whiting, market squid,
shellfish, rockfish, herring and salmon
Lifespan 18 to 25 years
Range Eastern North Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California
Habitat California sea lions are generally found in waters over continental shelf
and slope zones; they frequent coastal areas, including bays, rivers and harbor mouths.
Predators Sea lions are hunted by orcas and large sharks; pups are hunted by
coyotes and feral dogs on land.
Relatives Sea lions and Northern fur seals are in the same family known as "eared seals."
They are known for their ability to rotate their flippers under them and "walk" on land.
Family life California sea lions do not form pair bonds; one male will breed with many females.
After an 11-month gestation period, the female gives birth to a single pup. Pups weigh 13 to 20
pounds at birth; they are usually weaned after 12 months.
Conservation status Least Concern Generally this species is healthy, though some populations in the Gulf of California are near threatened. California sea lions were hunted intensely in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and their populations declined. Populations rebounded, except in the Gulf of California, after passage of laws protecting marine mammals. Threats to California sea lions include poaching, entanglement in marine debris and pollutants, including DDT and PCBs, which may affect the animals' immune system and overall health.