South American Sea Lion

The South American Sea Lion (Otaria flavescens) is a marine (saltwater) mammal in the Otariidae family of sea lions and fur seals. It is an otariid, which is an eared sea lion. It is also known as the Southern Sea Lion and the Patagonian Sea Lion.

The South American Sea Lion has orange to brown fur. The male has a very large mane of hair on its back, like other sea lions. It has a sleek, slender build with a thick neck, broad chest, broad shoulders, and a long, protruding face and upturned nose. It has white whiskers on its chin called vibrissae. It has small external ears on the sides of its face. 

It has flippers for swimming. Its movement in water is called aquatic locomotion. Its body is streamlined with oily fur for swimming fast underwater. Its fatty body has blubber, which keeps it warm and buoyant. It has a flexible spine (backbone). On land, it walks on its foreflippers (front flippers). 

South American Sea Lion

It grows to 180-273 centimetres (71-108 inches) long. The male has a thicker neck and is larger than the female.

It is native to the coast of South America, in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, and the Falkland Islands. It spends most of its time at sea, but it comes to land to breed and to shed its fur. It prefers sandy or rocky beaches. 

It feeds on fish and squid, as well as clams and anchovies. Its predators include the Killer Whale and the Great White Shark.

The South American Sea Lion is territorial when it is on land. The male protects his territory, called a rookery, but females can move freely between different male territories. 

The female is pregnant for 270 days, or 9 months, which is about the same time as a female human pregnancy. The female South American Sea Lion gives birth to one live young, called a pup. The pup is born with greyish-orange fur and blackish back. It sheds its juvenile fur and grows adult fur after 4-6 months of age.

South American Sea Lion
South American Sea Lion

Location of photograpsh: Parc Zoologique de Paris in Bois de Vincennes, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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