Monday, December 21, 2009

Stellar Sea Lions

Also known as, the Northern sea lion, the Stellar sea lion is the largest member of the Otariidae family. Its eastern Pacific population is listed as threatened.

Size: Males weigh up to 2,400 pounds and measure up to 11 feet in length; are much larger than females, especially in head, neck and shoulders. Females weigh up to 770 pounds and are seven to nine feet in length.

Description: Mature animals are light buff to reddish brown with furless flippers that appear brown or black. Males have manes resembling lion manes of long hairs extending from the back of their heads over their necks and shoulders.

Habitat: Range restricted to North Pacific Ocean and Southern Bering Sea. 2,000 estimated to live along Oregon coast. Found in coastal waters when foraging and migrating, but rarely in bays or rivers.

Behavior: Usually haul out on rocky reefs, gravel beaches; in some areas, may haul out on sandy beaches and onto sea ice in Bering Sea. For fear of losing harem of females, dominant mature males go hungry rather than leave territories during May-July breeding season to eat. Make roaring, lion-like noises.