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Galapagos Sea Lion

The Galapagos Sea Lion is one of the most frequently seen animals in the Galapagos, found on all the islands.

Galapagos Sea Lion

They are sociable creatures that live in large colonies on the beaches, spending time feeding, swimming, basking in the sun and sheltering beneath rocks and vegetation when too hot. They are very vocal, making a variety of barking and yelping sounds. The population is estimated to be about 50,000 and is relatively stable. Their main predators are killer whales and sharks.

Each sea lion colony is headed by a large male bull, with between 5 and 25 females and his own territory.  Rival bulls are often involved in fights and the average bull is dominant for just a few months, largely because he spends so long defending his females that he has little time to eat and so becomes weak and vulnerable to attack by a stronger individual. Beaten bulls are chased away from the colony but usually remain on the island.

Males can reach up to 230cm in length and 250kg in weight while females are smaller and lighter, weighing about 120kg. Males also have a distinctive thick neck and shoulders. They are considerably larger than the Galapagos fur seal.  Their fur varies in shade of brown, with females tending to be paler.

Sea lions reach maturity at about 5 years and they live for about 15-24 years. Immature males often live in groups known as ‘bachelor colonies’. The breeding season lasts from May to December and sea lions on different islands give birth at different times, sometimes months apart. The mother looks after the young pup for up to 3 years. The pups of a colony congregate together, feeding, playing and sleeping, watched over by their mothers.