Steller’s sea lion, Northern sea lion
The Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) is a near-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 species of elephant seals. The species is named for the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in 1741. Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades, owing to significant and largely unexplained declines in their numbers over an extensive portion of their northern range in Alaska.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
A piscivore is a carnivorous animal that eats primarily fish. Piscivorous is equivalent to the Greek-derived word ichthyophagous. Fish were the die...
A molluscivore is a carnivorous animal that specializes in feeding on molluscs such as gastropods, bivalves, brachiopods, and cephalopods. Known mo...
Semiaquatic animals are those that are primarily or partly terrestrial but that spend a large amount of time swimming or otherwise occupied in wate...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Predators are animals that kill and eat other organisms, their prey. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often conceal...
Natatorial animals are those adapted for swimming. Some fish use their pectoral fins as the primary means of locomotion, sometimes termed labriform...
Congregatory animals tend to gather in large numbers in specific areas as breeding colonies, for feeding, or for resting.
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
Colonial animals live in large aggregations composed of two or more conspecific individuals in close association with or connected to, one another....
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Adult Steller sea lions are lighter in color than most sea lions, ranging from pale yellow to tawny and occasionally reddish. Pups are born almost black and remain dark in coloration for several months. Females and males both grow rapidly until the fifth year, after which female growth slows considerably. Males continue to grow until their secondary sexual traits appear in their fifth to eighth year. Males are slightly longer than females and have much wider chests, necks, and general forebody structure. Males are further distinguished from females by broader and higher foreheads, flatter snouts, and a thick mane of coarse hair around their large necks. It is fitting then that their Latin name translates roughly as "maned one with the broad forehead".
Steller sea lions inhabit the northern Californian coast, northwards to Alaska, and on the coasts of Japan and Russia. They occur in the northern Pacific Ocean’s cool waters, hauling out on the rocky coastline and on beaches.
Steller sea lions are usually social and occur in large groups on beaches or in rookeries. They are usually in groups of two to twelve, but sometimes there are up to a hundred individuals together. At sea, they are solitary or in small groups. They forage at night near the shore and in pelagic waters. Steller sea lions can travel long distances during a season and are able to dive to about 1300 feet (400 m); however, they are not considered migratory. They use the land as haul-out sites to rest, molt, mate, and give birth. They produce powerful vocalizations accompanied, in males, by vertical head bobbing.
Steller sea lions are carnivores (piscivores, molluscivores). They mainly eat Atka mackerel, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, and Pacific salmon. They also eat octopuses, squid, gastropods, and bivalves. They may occasionally prey on Harbor seals, Ringed seals, younger Northern fur seals, and other animals.
Steller sea lions have a polygynous mating system. The only males allowed to mate are the dominant males; however, younger males will sneak into rookeries and attempt to mate with the females without the dominant male noticing. The dominant males will guard and mate with as many as 30 females in one mating season. Females give birth to a single pup between mid-May and July after a gestation period that lasts for approximately 12 months. Females care for their offspring for up to 3 years, nursing them for as long as a year, sometimes longer. Males are not much involved in parental care but will guard all of the females they have mated with. Both males and females reach maturity between 3 to 6 years of age. Due to competition with other males, most bulls are unlikely to successfully breed until 8 or 10 years of age.
Current threats to this species include boat/ship strikes, illegal hunting/shooting, contaminants/pollutants, habitat degradation, offshore gas and oil exploration, interactions (indirect and direct) with fisheries, direct impacts largely because of fishing gear (set and drift gillnets, longlines, trawls, etc.) which can hook, entangle, injure, or kill them, and indirect impacts from competition for food, possible changes to critical habitat, etc.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Steller sea lion population size is approximately 160,867 individuals. This includes population numbers of two recognized populations of the species: Western Steller sea lion population-79,929 individuals, with 55,791 animals in the USA and 24,138 animals in Russia; Loughlin’s Steller sea lion population-approximately 80,938 individuals. Currently, Steller sea lions are classified as Near Threatened (NT), however, their numbers today are increasing.
Due to their diet, Steller sea lions may have an influence on populations of fish, bivalves, gastropods, and cephalopods.