California Sea Lion ( Zalophus californianus )
On our last trip in Nature Weekends, we travel from Kansas in the United States to southern California; a distance of 1,389 miles. The California Sea Lion lives on the entire west coast of the mainland of the United States. They range for from 6 to 8 feet long. Males weigh in at 440 lbs to 660 lbs while females are smaller ranging from 100 to 220 lbs. Sea lions can swim at 24 mph and can dive down to 450 feet. They can also stay under for 20 minutes. It's important to note that sea lions are seals. One difference between sea lions and seals is that sea lions are not clumsy on land. Sea Lions hunt at night and they spend the day basking on the beach. Outside of the breeding season the sexes live separately and they live in same sex groups during this time. Males stay north of southern California outside of the breeding season until May or June. Females can breed at 4 years old. Females come ashore to give birth and to mate. They mate with the males one month later. Sea lions have few natural predators but large sharks and killer whales will kill and consume sea lions. Sea lions were once killed for the oil and meat was used in dog food.