Written by: Marisa, Lead Naturalist
As we venture further into the season, the Steller Sea Lion numbers at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve are quickly rising. Let’s take a further look into these large pinnipeds!
Common Names: Steller Sea Lion, Northern Sea Lion, and Aquatic Grizzly
Scientific Name: Eumetopias jubatus
Body Size: Pup (M) 48lbs 3.3ft, Pup (F) 44lbs 3.3ft, Adult (M) 1,500-2,500 lbs 10ft, Adult (F) 600lbs 7.5ft
Steller Sea Lions are pinnipeds or “feather-footed” animals, this refers to their feather-like flippers. Whereas our Harbor Seals propel themselves through the water utilizing their hind flippers, sea lions utilize their forward flippers. This propulsion system allows them to reach maximum speeds 27km/hr.
Steller Sea Lions are not only identifiable by their size. Steller Sea lion males tend to grow a bit of a mane as they mature. Their colouring is a golden-brown that turns a mocha colour when wet. Like all pinnipeds, our Aquatic Grizzlies have whiskers that they use to find their prey and navigate their underwater environment.
These amazing animals prey on fish such as the Pacific Herring, Cod, a variety of rockfish, Pacific Salmon, and Sculpins but will venture as far as eating seal pups and squid! Scientists have found a curious thing in the stomach contents of Stellers, rocks up to 12 cm in diameter! There is yet to be a sure answer as to why these guys are swallowing rocks, however, some theories include: ballast when diving, to aid in grinding up fish, or to fight off hunger while fasting on shore!
Want a chance to see these wild animals? Book a tour with us today!