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California Sea Lion

Animal Essentials

Scientific Name:
Zalophus califonianus
Park Location:

Found from British Colombia in Canada to Baja in Mexico, including the gulf of California
Ocean - sandy beaches and rocky areas for breeding

Amazing Facts

A group of sea lions is known as a rookery.
They can eat over 5% of their bodyweight each day.
They have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.

Clumsy on land, but changing to graceful acrobats once in the ocean, a sea lion in the water is a magnificent sight. Their effortless twists, turns and porpoising through the water easily show why a sea lion is such a good underwater hunter.

Sea lions are highly social animals and groups of thousands can be seen congregating on rocky shores. They tend to hunt for fish on their own. Their dives can last up to 10 minutes and reach 26 to 98 metres in depth.

Males will fight for territory along the rocky shores where they will defend an area for the duration of the breeding season (May - Aug). A single pup is born after 12 months' gestation. The mother will continue to feed her offspring for 6 months during which time the pup will have learned how to swim and to live within a sea lion community. More importantly, a pup will also be taught on how to avoid sea lion’s greatest enemies - sharks and killer whales.


California sea lion numbers were extremely low until the US marine mammal protection Act came into force in 1972 making it illegal to hunt sea lions. Their numbers have now recovered with an estimated 240,000 sea lions around the US shores. However, climate change, pollution of the seas and low fish stocks are all threats to the survival of this species. As long as fish stocks stay high in this region, it is believed the California sea lion is safe from extinction.

Threat Status

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