- Sea lion
Temporal range: Late Oligocene – Recent
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Suborder: Caniformia Superfamily: Pinnipedia Family: Otariidae
Sea lions are pinnipeds characterized by external ear-flaps, long fore-flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, and short thick hair. Together with the fur seal, they comprise the family Otariidae, or eared seals. There are six extant and one extinct species (the Japanese sea lion) in five genera. Their range extends from the subarctic to tropical waters of the global ocean in both the northern and southern hemispheres with the notable exception of the northern Atlantic Ocean.. They have an average life span of 20-30 years.
Together with the fur seals, they constitute the Otariidae family, collectively known as eared seals. Until recently, sea lions were grouped under a single subfamily called Otariinae to distinguish them from the fur seals Arcocephalinae, based on the most prominent common feature between all species, namely the lack of the dense underfur characteristic of the latter. Recent genetic evidence, however, strongly suggests that Callorhinus, the genus of the Northern fur seal is more closely related to some sea lion species than to the other fur seal genus Arctocephalus. Therefore the fur seal/sealion subfamily distinction has been eliminated from many taxonomies. Sea lions are related to the walrus and the seal. Nonetheless, all fur seals have certain features in common: the fur, generally smaller sizes, farther and longer foraging trips, smaller and more abundant prey items and greater sexual dimorphism. All sea lions have certain features in common, in particular their coarse, short fur, greater bulk and larger prey than fur seals. For these reasons, the distinction remains useful.
- SUBORDER PINNIPEDIA
- Family Otariidae
- Subfamily Arctocephalinae
- Genus Arctocephalus (southern fur seal; 8 species)
- Genus Callorhinus (northern fur seal; 1 species)
- Subfamily Otariinae
- Genus Eumetopias
- Steller sea lion, E. jubatus
- Genus Neophoca
- Australian sea lion, N. cinerea
- Genus Otaria
- South American sea lion, O. flavescens
- Genus Phocarctos
- New Zealand sea lion or Hooker's Sea Lion, P. hookeri
- Genus Zalophus
- Genus Eumetopias
- Subfamily Arctocephalinae
- Family Phocidae: true seals
- Family Odobenidae: Walrus
Interactions with humans
Some species of sea lion are readily trainable and are often a popular attraction at zoos and aquariums. The archetypal circus "seal" performing behaviors such as throwing and catching balls on its nose and clapping is almost always a sea lion.
Sea lion attacks on humans are rare. In a highly unusual attack in 2007 in Western Australia a sea lion leapt from the water and seriously mauled a 13-year old girl surfing behind a speedboat. The sea lion appeared to be preparing for a second attack when the girl was rescued. An Australian marine biologist opined the sea lion may have viewed the girl "like a rag doll toy" to be played with. In San Francisco where an increasingly large population of California sea lion crowds dock along San Francisco Bay, there have been incidents in recent years of swimmers being bitten on the leg by large aggressive males, possibly as a territorial act.
Sea lions have also been reported to assist or save humans who show signs of distress in the open waters. In June of 2000, Kevin Hines leaped into the San Francisco bay and it was reported that he was saved by a sea lion that kept him afloat and breathing till the paramedics arrived.
A gathering of more than 40 sea lions off the coast of California. A military sea lion on board a US navy ship. A sea lion at the Memphis Zoo.
- ^ "ANIMAL BYTES - Sea Lions & Fur Seals". http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/Animal-Bytes/animalia/eumetazoa/coelomates/deuterostomes/chordata/craniata/mammalia/pinnipedia/sea-lions-&-fur-seals.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- ^ Wynen, L.P. et al.; Goldsworthy, SD; Insley, SJ; Adams, M; Bickham, JW; Francis, J; Gallo, JP; Hoelzel, AR et al. (2001). "Phylogenetic relationships within the eared seals (Otariidae: Carnivora): implications for the historical biogeography of the family". Mol. Phylog. Evol. 21 (2): 270–284. doi:10.1006/mpev.2001.1012. PMID 11697921.
- ^ Watkins, Thomas (2007-02-12). "Navy may deploy anti-terrorism dolphins". Associated Press. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/archive/Navy_Trains_Marine_Mammals_to_Track_Threats_All__National_.html. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- ^ BBC News: Sea lion attacks Australian girl
- ^ news.com.au: Monster sea lion likely to be 'playing' with teen
- ^ Sea lion mauls girl
- ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/11/16/MNGMFMDVGC1.DTL&hw=sea+lion&sn=011&sc=518
- ^ http://cbs5.com/pets/sea.lion.bite.2.859412.html
- ^ http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-10-07/news/too-cute-to-shoot/
- ^ Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
- ^ San Francisco Chronicle: Lethal Beauty / A Survivor's Story
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