Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Suborder: Pinnipedia Family: Otariidae

North America has two types of sea lions. The California sea lion (Zalophus Californianus, and the Stellar sea lion (Eumetopias Jubatus). They share a number of characteristics. Both pinnipeds have flippers instead of paws or feet. They both have a fairly thin coat of fur, relying more on blubber to keep them warm in the ocean. They have sharp teeth with which to gobble down fish. Being mammals, they need to breath air, but are quite adept at remaining underwater, being able to store extra oxygen in their muscles and blood. Unlike seals, they have external flaps for their ears. They have large flippers, and are able to bring all four flippers under their body, and walk on them. When swimming they use the front flippers much like we would use oars.

The California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) have short brown fur, and are quite playful. Anytime you see a sea lion at the circus balancing a ball on it's nose, it is a California sea lion. They gather together in large groups, and make sounds much like the barking of a dog. They often sunbathe together on offshore rocks. Males average about 390kg, and reach 2.1m in length. Females reach 110kg, about 1.8m long. They range from Vancouver Island, B.C., to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico, although they breed mostly on islands off the coast of southern California. They will eat pretty much anything they can, including squid, octopus, herring, rockfish and mackerel.

The main difference physically between the Stellar sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) and the California sea lion is size. Males grow up to 3.25m and are as heavy as 1120kg. The females are much smaller, only 2.9m long, with about 350kg of mass. They are also lighter in colour than the California sea lion, a light tan to a reddish brown. They have a bulky build, and a very thick neck. They are more likely to stay offshore, or to hang out in unpopulated areas. They are found throughout the Pacific rim from Japan to central California, although most of them area off the shore of Alaska. They are probably even less picky eaters than their Californian cousins. They are currently on the endangered species list, and their population has dropped dramatically in past years.

And they are, for the record:
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:   Chordata
Class:    Mammalia
Order:    Carnivora
Suborder: Pinnipedia
Family:   Otariidae 
Subfamily Otariinae 

Sea" li"on (?). Zool.

Any one of several large species of seals of the family Otariidae native of the Pacific Ocean, especially the southern sea lion (Otaria jubata) of the South American coast; the northern sea lion (Eumetopias Stelleri) found from California to Japan; and the black, or California, sea lion (Zalophus Californianus), which is common on the rocks near San Francisco.


© Webster 1913.

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