Sea lions are swift swimmers, adept deep-water divers, exceptional aquatic hunters, and excellent surfers.
On the tips of waves that surge onto the shores of the Galapagos Islands, their dark torpedo shapes can be seen gliding until the wave breaks.
Then, they race back to find the next big wave.
The life of a sea lion retains a constant rhythm: swim out of danger, chase, eat, frolic, sleep, breed and repeat.
A few sources espouse the idea that the sea lion got its name because they have whiskers and they rule the sea.
Another source claims the name sea lion caught on because they are agile carnivorous underwater hunters.
However, sea lions are not the top predator of the sea.
The most plausible explanation for the sea lion’s name comes from one of the first written descriptions of the Stellar sea lion.
The description stated that the sea lion had “a shaggy mane which imparts a resemblance to the king of beasts.”
The course hair around the neck of a Stellar sea lion gives the impression that it has a mane.
Male sea lions are referred to as bulls.
Females are referred to as cows.
Sea lions have an external ear flap.
They have scary canine teeth, primarily used to catch fish.
Sea lions are not seals.
They are pinnipeds, which means they are fin-footed.
Each hind flipper has three toe nails.
Sea lion flexibility allows any itch to be scratched.
A sea lion’s flexible pelvic girdle allows it to move easily on land because by rotating its back flippers underneath its body it can walk like other land mammals, almost.
In the water, sea lions use their front flippers to propel themselves and their hind flippers for steering.
They usually cruise the ocean at eleven miles per hour, but they can have a burst of speed to twenty-five miles per hour.
The sea lions diet consists of fifty species of seafood.
A sea lion with a camera mounted on its back revealed one sea lion hunting technique.
During a chase, the sea lion kept biting off the legs of an octopus until the octopus could not swim; what was left was an easy meal.
Bulls eat between thirty and forty-five pounds of fish daily.
Cows eat between fifteen and twenty-five pounds of fish daily.
In the water, sea lions often huddle close together.
This is referred to as rafting.
When ashore, approximately thirty females and one dominating bull form a social group called a colony.
Sea lions work cooperatively both in and out of the water.
Cows give birth to a single pup during warm summer months.
Birth must be on shore as newborn pups do not know how to swim.
Within a few weeks of birth, a seal pup will learn to swim in shallow waters near the shore under the watchful eye of its mother.
A single female will watch over a group of pups when mothers go fishing.
These guardians will make sure the pups stay in shallow water to keep them from being eaten by sharks or other predators.
Bulls provide some security by giving sharp barks when they spot nearby sharks.
Occasionally, large bulls will drive smaller sharks away.
When a mother returns from fishing, she uses vocalizations and scent to recognize her pup.
Sea lions inhabit most of the worlds oceans.
Interestingly, they are absent in the Atlantic ocean; scientist have no explanation for this absence.
Sea lions prefer flat beaches that are either sandy or have flat rocks.
They use the beaches to warm up, dry out, and rest up for their next trip to the sea.
They also prefer beaches that have tide pools for training their pups to swim and good access to calm waters.
Sea lions can dive up to 900 feet and hold their breath for up to twenty minutes.
Their bodies have a high tolerance for carbon dioxide; during deep dives, less oxygen goes to non-vital organs.
The largest portion of their oxygen supply on a deep dive is distributed to the heart and the central nervous system.
Sea lions face multiple threats.
A sea lion makes a sizable dinner for a killer whale or a great white shark.
They are vulnerable to human activities such as fishing.
A sea lion’s natural inquisitive nature makes fishing nets and fishing hooks dangerous for juvenile sea lions.
At times, water pollution and over fishing have threatened the sea lion population.
They will climb on top of kayaks to steal a fisherman’s fish.
They have also been known to climb into a car for a slumber when the door was left open.
Recently, Ronan, a Californian sea lion, made the news because she bobs her head and wiggles her body in perfect rhythm to the song Everybody, a song that is sung by the Backstreet Boys.