Sea Lion Pup
Ron, a California sea lion pup born at the Aquarium on July 2, spent his first month in a behind-the-scenes pool nursing, learning how to swim, and bonding with his mother, Tipper. In late July, his mother indicated to the trainers that she was ready to have him introduced to the main exhibit pool of the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center with its two other sea lions and four Northern fur seals. Through much of August, Ron gradually met different members of this large group and spent more and more time with them on each visit.
Now, Ron has graduated to being in the main pool full-time, spending a lot of his time under Tipper’s watchful eye, but also swimming about exploring the space on his own. He is becoming a proficient swimmer and can move from the water to the deck in a fairly smooth manner. Given the large front fins of sea lions, he can walk steadily on the even surface of the pool side. However, Ron loves to hang out on rocks in the exhibit, and his dexterity on those uneven surfaces is toddler clumsy at best as he slugs and tumbles his way with slight height changes. Ron’s confidence sometimes exceeds his coordination.
Ron weighed approximately 12 to 14 pounds at birth and now tips the scales in the low 20s, if the marine mammal staff could ever get him on it. At 8 weeks old, he is not yet eating fish and still gets all his nourishment from mother’s milk. Observant Aquarium visitors can sometimes see him nursing on Tipper in the central part of the exhibit. At night, he snuggles in with not only Tipper, but two other young adult females named Zoe and Sierra in typical California sea lion fashion.
Ron was named for the late Dr. Ron Schusterman, a pioneering marine mammal scientist and expert in animal behavior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with whom Kathy Streeter of the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Center worked on sea lion research.