Galapagos sea lion increasingly in danger



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Galapagos sea lion increasingly in danger

The Galapagos sea lion lives in the islands of the archipelago and in the coasts of Ecuador where a population has been introduced. This sea lion likes to live on sandy or rocky beaches with a minimum of vegetation, while they like waters that are fresh and rich in food.

The IUCN Red List classifies the Galapagos sea lion as an endangered species. This species is protected not only in the Galapagos Islands but also in the Ecuadorian National Park.

Description and behavior

The Galapagos sea lion has a hydrodynamic body with sturdy fins.

The male can be 200 - 250 cm long and can weigh between 200 and 400 kg while the female is 150 - 200 cm long and can weigh 50 - 110 kg. Adult males have dark brown fur while females are slightly lighter in color. In addition to their larger size, the males are distinguished from the females by the broader forehead and by the color of the fur on the head which is very light.

The young are chestnut brown in color and at birth weigh approximately 75 kg. The Galapagos sea lions are very sociable animals that form colonies of up to 30 individuals. Each colony is dominated by a dominant male who defends his territory very aggressively in order to drive away any intruders.

Within his harem the male has a dominant position over a group of 5 to 25 females. Mothers are very vigilant and supervise their young in order to keep them out of harm's way. Females often take turns watching each other's pups while they are hunting.

In addition to chasing away intruders, the male has the task of warning the herd in case a predator is approaching. The breeding season does not depend on migrations in fact this animal remains in the Galápagos archipelago all year round.

The start of the mating season varies from year to year although it generally lasts 16-40 weeks between June and December. The female gives birth to a single cub on the beach after 11 months of gestation. Individuals are active during the day and hunting takes place in shallow water where they feed on fish, octopuses, and crustaceans.