Wildlife - Steller Sea Lion


Steller Sea Lion - Eumetopias jubatus

The Steller Sea Lion is the largest species of sea lion in the world and certainly look (and sound!) impressive when viewed from our boats. They have short fur which is light tan in colour and large dark brown flippers that help make them relatively quick and agile onshore and tremendously quick and agile in the sea.

 

Males are almost double the size of females, weighing in the 990-2470 lb range compared to females who weigh between 520-770lbs. Mature males are distinguished by their much wider chests, necks, and broader foreheads. They also have a thick mane of coarse hair on their blubbery necks which both help to protect them during any competitive fighting that takes place during the mating season.

 

Like all other eared seals, Steller sea lions are polygynous. However, instead of coercing females into harems, males will fight for and defend their territory in which the females are able to move about freely. During the mating season these males are so busy guarding their sections of shoreline that they may fast from mid May until August.

 

Steller sea lions are opportunistic marine predators whose prey include a wide range of fish and cephalopod species. They prefer to feed on schooling fish or squid, but have been seen occasionally killing harbour seals or sea otter pups. They are very close to the top of the food chain in the Salish Sea but killer whales still have them beat! It is not uncommon for us to witness a pod of transient killer whales work as a family group to take down one of these large sea lions!