Thursday, September 27, 2012

Galapagos sea lion

 
Life of Sea | Galapagos sea lion | Galapagos sea lion is a species of sea lion that breeds only on the Galápagos Islands and - in smaller numbers - on Isla de la Plata (Ecuador). Galapagos sea lion is an endemic species. It is smaller than its close relative, the California sea lion. The Galapagos species can be found in the sea to hunt for fish and squid as on most islands. They prefer soft sandy beaches and rocky shores. If free social, and one of the most numerous species in the Galapagos archipelago, they are often spotted sunbathing on sandy shores or rock groups or gliding gracefully through the surf. Their loud bark, playful nature, and graceful agility in the water making them the "welcoming party" of the islands.

 
Galapagos sea lions are one of the most conspicuous and numerous marine mammals in the Galapagos Islands. They have a body length between 150 and 250 cm and they weigh between 50 and 400 kg, males are much larger than females. Adult males also tend to have a thicker, more robust neck, chest and shoulders in comparison with their slender abdomen. Females are slightly toward men, with a longer, more slender neck and thick trunk. The males are brown, women tend to have a lighter brown and the young are colored maroon. When men reach puberty they develop a high forehead and sometimes their hair is lighter on their crest.

 

Both male and female lions have a pointy, whiskered nose and somewhat long, narrow snout. Young puppies are almost dog-like in profile. The foreflippers have a short coat that extends from the wrist to the middle of the dorsal surface, but other than that, the flippers are covered with black, leathery skinAlthough clumsy on land with their flippers, sea lions are incredibly agile in the water . With their streamlined bodies and flipper-like feet, they can easily propel themselves by crashing surf and dangerous sharp coastal rocks. When wet, sea lions are a shade of dark brown, but once dry, their color varies greatly. The females tend to have a lighter shade than the males and the puppies a chestnut brown. Born with a long, brown black lanugo, a puppy coat gradually fades to brown in the first five months of life.

 
Scientific classification
Kingdom:     Animalia
Phylum:     Chordata
Class:     Mammalia
Order:     Carnivora
Family:     Otariidae
Genus:     Zalophus
Species:     Z. wollebaeki

Feeding mainly on sardines, Galapagos sea lions sometimes travel 10 to 15 kilometers from the coast over the span of days to hunt their prey. Injuries and scars of attacks are often visible. The main predators of Galapagos sea lions, sharks and orcas. Dogs are also known to gnaw puppies. Galapagos sea lions are particularly vulnerable to human activity. To prevent overheating during the day, sea lions take refuge from the sun under vegetation, rocks and cliffs. Adult males often bark in long, loud and distinctive repetitive sequences. From birth, a mother sea lion pup recognizes its various bark and can locate a crowd of 30 or more barking sea lions.

 
Galapagos sea lions breed between May and January and mating usually occurs in the water. After a gestation period of about 11 months, females give birth to one pup. When the pups are born they weigh about 6 kg (13.2 lbs) and they are about 75 cm (29.5 inches) long. When the puppies reach 1-2 weeks old they will venture into the water and begin to learn to swim. They are weaned when reaching 11 to 12 months old, but because of the long breeding season and the length of time the puppies are cared for by their mother, pups are dependent on the colonies throughout the year.

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