Sea Lion Facts
Fun facts about Australian Sea Lions
Sea lions are often called sea puppies. Their numbers have declined by over 60% in the last 4 decades, and they are now classed as endangered.
The Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca Cinerea) are a protected species and can be found as far north as the Abrolhos Islands near Geraldton and as far south as Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
Sea lions spend their time mostly on a sandy beach within an isolated bay area. During breeding they are often found near areas with shallow pools for the pups to learn to swim.
Mature males or bulls weigh between 300 to 400 kg and congregate in bachelor groups. For example, on Carnac Island off the coast near Fremantle. These are called haul out islands. The males are larger and darker in colour with a light-yellow mane. They mature at 8-9 years old. The dominant male will guard the females for the right to breed during the breeding season.
Females are silver-grey to fawn and weigh approximately 70 to 100 kg.
Sea Lion Diet
They are benthic feeders (sea floor feeders) foraging up to 90 meters deep on octopus, squid, fish, cuttlefish, crayfish and even sea birds.
Their life span ranges from 20 – 25 years.
Females come into season for only 24 hours 7-10 days after they have given birth to a pup. After a 17-month gestation period, the pups are born weighing 4-5 kg. They are unable to swim at birth and do not begin to forage until they are 4-5 months old. The pup is nursed for 15-18 months. The female pups return to the island of their birth to breed.
5 fun facts
1. Sea lions have four fins – they propel themselves with their front and steer with their back. They also have a pelvic bone in their rear which allows them to stand on all four and run like a dog on land.
2. An adult female sea lion needs 8-10 kg of food a day. They may consume 1/3 of their body weight on a feeding trip.
3. While diving underwater the heartrate of Australian sea lions can drop to 5 beats per minute
4. A group of sea lions is called a ‘raft’. They are very sociable animals and live in large colonies, but usually live together in sub-groups of 10-15 sea lions.
5. Australian Sea Lions use their whiskers as sensors in dark water. This allows them to detect movement and catch their prey even when they can’t see. Sea lions can dive up to 185 meters deep, staying under for around 20 minutes.