California sea lions are found along the west coast of Canada, USA and Mexico, with the largest populations occurring in the islands of California. A distinct population is found in the Galapagos Islands. Sea lions are known for their, playfulness, intelligence and near acrobatic abilities underwater. These animals are often seen in performances at zoos and sea worlds.
The males are dark brown and can reach 390 kg and 2.1 m in length. The females are a lighter brown and slightly smaller growing to 220 kg and 1.8 m in length. Males form a bump on the tops of their skull called a sagittal, when they reach 5 years of age. Sea lions are members of the Otariid family, having external ears and the ability to rotate their front and back flippers, which enables them to “walk” on land. They have a dog like face, but preliminary comparisons of the genome shows greater similarity with the Panda genome.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Dinsdale. Copyright Elizabeth Dinsdale, 2010