The Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) also known as the northern sea lion, is a threatened species of sea lion in the northern Pacific. It is the sole member of the genus Eumetopias and the largest of the eared seals (Otariidae). Among pinnipeds, it is inferior in size only to the walrus and the two elephant seals. The species is named for the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller who first described them in 1741. The Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades due to significant, unexplained declines in their numbers over a large portion of their range in Alaska.
Ten Facts about Steller Sea Lion
- The average lifespan of a Steller sea lion is about 20 to 23 years although females may live up to 30 years.
- The average adult male Steller sea lion is 9 feet in length and 1500 lbs. The average adult female is 7 feet in length and 600 lbs. At birth, Steller sea lions weigh 45 lbs. and are 3 feet in length.
- Adult Steller sea lions are light brown to blond with a dark brown darkening around the flippers and undersides. Steller sea lion pups are dark brown at birth. Unlike most pinnipeds, when wet or in the water, Steller sea lions appear light grayish-tan.
- Diving is generally to depths of 600 feet or less and diving duration is usually 2 minutes or less.
- Steller sea lions inhabit the cool coastal waters of the North Pacific. When not in the water, Steller sea lions gather on rookeries and haulouts which are secluded rocky islands.
- Steller sea lions are opportunistic and eat a wide range of fish including herring, pollock, salmon, cod and rockfishes, as well as squid and shrimp. To survive, an adult sea lion needs to eat at least 6% of its body weight each day.
- Feeding occurs in groups and at night between 9 PM and 6 AM.
- Steller sea lions become sexually mature at 3 to 7 years of age and mate and give birth on land.
- A pregnancy lasts about 11 ½ months and lactation continues for 1 to 3 years. Mating occurs shortly after the pups are born, during June and July.
- There Predators Include humans, sharks, and killer whales.