South American Sea Lion Pictures

 
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South American Sea Lion Photos Showing This Large and Fearsome Predator

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The South American sea lion or Southern sea lion, Otaria flavescens, is one of six extant species of sea lions. It lives along the coasts and offshore islands of southern South America, from Peru to Chile on the Pacific side, and from Argentina to Uruguay on the Atlantic side, as well as in the Falkland Islands. The species exhibits obvious sexual dimorphism, with males being much larger than females and having very thick, maned necks and a large head, giving them a lion-like appearance. They are large and fearsome predators, but are preyed upon themselves by killer whales, which go so far as to beach themselves in pursuit of a sea lion pup.

Male South American sea lions can grow to a length of nine feet and may weigh as much as 772 pounds. They have brown fur and their manes are often lighter than the rest of their body. Females reach a maximum of seven feet in length, and weigh around 331 pounds. They are much slimmer than males. Both males and females have upturned snouts and external ears. Pups are born black, but change to brown as they mature and moult. Longevity is about 20 years in the wild.

South American sea lions feed primarily on schooling fish, such as anchovies and hake, and on squid and octopus, but are opportunistic and will feed on what is seasonally available. They occasionally prey on penguins and fur seal pups. Their foraging grounds are shallow areas within five miles of shore. They are preyed upon by large sharks, such as great whites, and by killer whales, which famously pursue sea lion pups right onto the shore. Puma may prey on sea lion pups in Patagonia.

South American sea lions prefer open sandy or pebble beaches for resting on shore, and group there in large aggregations. They form smaller groups in rocky areas and sometimes make use of boat wharves for resting and sunning themselves. The largest and most intimidating males establish harems of up to 18 females. When challenged by other males, fights occur and the chaotic movement of large animals can crush young pups.

South American sea lions were hunted extensively in the 1800s and 1900s, but are not pursued on a commercial basis now. They are protected in most of their range. The IUCN Red List rates them as Least Concern and estimates worldwide populations to be over 250,000. However, they are at risk from loss of habitat and from ocean pollution, as most sea lions, being predators, have high concentrations of toxic chemicals and metals in their body tissue. The Peruvian population experienced a dramatic decline in numbers during the 1997 and 1998 El Nino event, but appears to be recovering. Future El Ninos, which are expected to become stronger and more frequent, are likely to decimate Peruvian populations again.

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Picture of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, Peninsula Valdes, Argentina, South Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 000395

Image of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, female, pup and large male, Punta Norte, Peninsula Valdez, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 069413

Photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, pup being attacked by an orca or killer whale, Orcinus orca, Argentina

Picture #: 008261

Stock photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, or southern sea lion, bull on a beach, Falkland Islands, South America, South Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 049622

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Picture of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, female and large male, Punta Norte, Peninsula Valdes, Patagonia, Argentina, South Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 069425

Image of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, mating, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 002807

Photo of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, at sunset, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 002786

Stock photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, Patagonia, Argentina, South Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 012429

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Picture of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, female and large male, Paracas Pena, Peru

Picture #: 024426

Image of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, hauled out, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 002768

Photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, female, pup and large male, Punta Norte, Peninsula Valdez, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 069417

Stock photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, or southern sea lion, bull with harem off the Falkland Islands, South America, South Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 049623

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Picture of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, Puerto Piramides, Peninsula Valdez , Patagonia , Argentina

Picture #: 099351

Image of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, and photographer, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 012430

Photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, or southern sea lion, bull with harem off the Falkland Islands, South America, South Atlantic Ocean

Picture #: 049092

Stock photo of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, at low tide in Punta Cantor beach, Caleta Valdes, Patagonia, Argentina. Orcas, orcinus orca, hunt here using the unique strategy of intentional stranding on gravel beaches to capture sea lion calves

Picture #: 099358

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Picture of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, or Southern Sea Lion, herd resting on a beach, Falkland Islands, South America, South Atlantic Ocean. Cow moving her newborn calf.

Picture #: 049231

Image of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, hauled out, Otaria flavescens, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 002768

Photo of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, as an orca, Orcinus orca, swims in to attack, Patagonia, Argentina

Picture #: 002788

Stock photo of South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens, South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, as an orca, Orcinus orca, attacks, Argentina

Picture #: 008244

 

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