According to the scientific classification, sea lions belong to the family Eared seals. But in their appearance and way of life, they differ significantly from their closest relatives. That is, from sea elephants and seals. Who are they - these predatory mammals? And what does the inhabitant of the ocean have in common with the large cats found in the savannahs? The answer to this question is quite simple: in mature males, the hair on the collar is longer than on the rest of the body, which gives a distant resemblance to the mane of an African predator.
There is an opinion that sea lions live only in the Southern Hemisphere. There are three species of them there - according to their habitat: Australian, New Zealand and southern, found off the coast of Africa and Latin America. But north of the equator, such animals are also common. This is a Californian lion and a sea lion. And if the first species is not much different from its southern counterparts (since it lives in the subtropics and it does not need to accumulate reserves of subcutaneous fat), then the sea lion has occupied a life niche in fairly high latitudesnorthern hemisphere. It lives in Russia on the Kuril Islands, in the Sea of Okhotsk, in Kamchatka, Sakhalin. It can also be found on the Commander and Aleutian Islands, Alaska and the coast of North America up to California.
Sea lions, unlike other seals, are surprisingly graceful creatures. Even on land, they are quite active and move dexterously, and in the water they show the wonders of circus acrobatics. Their skin is brown, with rather short fur. This unattractive coat and meager reserves of fat saved the species of sea lions from extermination by people. Hunting them is not as profitable as fur seals and other seals, although the endemic species of these animals was completely destroyed in Japan. A streamlined body, strong flippers, a flattened small head with small, slightly bulging beautiful eyes allow the lion to dive to a depth of 90 meters and chase schools of fish at high speed.
These animals can spend all day on the high seas. However, sea lions do not like long migrations. We can say that these are sedentary animals that do not move away from their beach at a distance of more than 25 km. They hunt for fish, crustaceans, molluscs. In turn, sea lions fall prey to killer whales and white sharks. They live in colonies, but not as numerous as other eared seals. Their males are also more peaceful - all fights for the harem are, as a rule, "to the first blood." Females show aggressiveness only in the first days after birth. The young have golden fur and feed on mother's milk for up to six months. femalesbecome sexually mature in the third year of life, and males - in the fifth. But only at the age of seven does a lion cub acquire a mane and can defend its harem. The sea lion (photo of him here) is much larger than his graceful girlfriend: 300 kilograms of live weight against some 90 kg of the lady.
These animals have extremely developed mental activity. They are quick-witted, inventive, perfectly tamed and amenable to training. This, as well as innate dexterity and grace, make them regular actors in aquariums and dolphinariums. Therefore, most of us have known from childhood what a sea lion looks like. And in the conditions of a free life, flocks of these seals are saved from their natural enemies - sharks and killer whales - by staying closer to people, settling in marinas, ports and even navigation buoys.