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Steller Sea Lion

The Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) also known as the northern sea lion, is a sea lion of the northern Pacific. It is the sole member of the genus Eumetopias and the largest of the eared seals. Among pinnipeds, it is inferior in size only to the walrus and the two elephant seals. The species is named for the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller who first described them in 1741. The Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades due to significant, unexplained declines in their numbers over a large portion of their range in Alaska.

The range of the Steller sea lion extends from the Kuril Islands and the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia to the Gulf of Alaska in the north, and down to A–o Nuevo Island off central California. Adult animals are lighter in color than most sea lions, ranging from pale yellow to tawny and occasionally reddish. Females tend to be slightly lighter than the males. Steller sea lion pups are born almost black, weighing around 50lbs (23kg), and remain dark for several months. They are skilled and opportunistic marine predators feeding on a wide range of fish and cephalopod species. They seem to prefer schooling fish and remain primarily in between inter-tidal zones and continental shelves. They are also known to enter estuarine environments and feed on some semi-freshwater fish. Very occasionally, they have been known to predate on Northern fur seal, harbor seal, and sea otter pups. They are near the top of the marine food chain but are susceptible to predation by orcas.

Steller sea lions are frequently seen throughout there range from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska. One of the best places in the world to photograph and interact with them is Hornby Island in British Columbia during the winter months.

Click on the following links to view images of the California Sea Lion, Northern Fur Seal, Guadalupe Fur Seal, Harbor Seal, Southern Elephant Seal, Sea Otter, and Walrus. Or return to the Pinnipeds main gallery.

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