EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: Teachable Moment: Here Come the Sea Lions !

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Teachable Moment: Here Come the Sea Lions !

Teachable Moment:
Here Come the Sea Lions !
by Emily of YarnMiracle

Let me provide the answer to a question that I know you've been losing sleep over for years: How do you tell a sea lion from a seal?

The secret is the ears. Sea lions and seals are both marine mammals, spend most of their day in the ocean looking for food, have flippers and a nice thick layer of blubber to keep them warm in cold water. But sea lions have a small sticky out ear flap where seals only have holes. That all there is to it: check the ears !

You'll have to check from a distance though, while sea lions are generally considered social animals, one solid ton of bull (male) sea lion is still pretty intimidating - even if he is shy. The females (cows) are much smaller at *only* 700 pounds apiece and newborns weigh in at a mere 50 pounds. The pups catch up pretty quickly - they will hit 200 pounds around 1 year of age.

Sea lions wear some of the smartest pants in the Pinnipedia family. (Pinnipedia means "wing foot" or "feather foot" - a reference to their flippers.) In captivity, they have been taught tricks for entertainment and the US Navy has trained them to help patrol ports. Training methods center on lots and lots of positive reinforcement in the form of fish, praise, fish and more fish.

When left to their own devices, sea lions can dive up to 600 feet deep to round out their fish-focused diet with squid, crabs, and clams located with the help of those crazy whiskers. Nostrils that automatically close up when they enter the water help them stay submerged for up to 40 minutes at a time! Between that and top swimming speeds of 25mph, sea lions have a decent chance of escaping their only marine enemies: killer whales and sharks.

Another protection against their natural predators is their extremely social nature. Sea lions like to live in enormous groups called "colonies" - these groups can contain thousands of sea lions and are divided into smaller sub groups. There might be plenty of coastline available, but they prefer to stay packed shoulder to shoulder, relaxing and soaking up the sun.

Colonies (called "rookeries" when the pups are young) are noisy places. Everyone talks at once in the variety of honks, barks, roars and trumpets that they use to express themselves. A baby can find his Mom just by the sound she makes.

There are seven known species of sea lion - but only six are still around. The Japanese Sea Lion has been extinct since the 1950s. Their disappearance caused researchers and conservationists to put a greater focus on sea lion preservation. There are now international laws to help protect sea lions, the Stellar Sea Lion continues to decline and the California Sea Lion is doing quite well.

One More Click

The Marine Mammal Center
The San Diego Zoo's seallion page
Sea lion Facts and Information
The US Navy's Marine Mammal Program
One of several Pentagon Channel Clips (video) about the US Navy's work with marine mammals


  1. Thanks, Emily for the wonderful Seals/Sea Lion article and for sharing the fun videos! I'm lucky enough to have visited the Pier 39 Sea Lions a few times, as I'm from the Bay Area. They are so funny, great characters :)

  2. Really interesting - thanks Emily!

  3. I loved the baby running to mommy! So cute! And thanks for that info on the ear flaps! I never knew!! Pier 39 seems to have quite the over population problem! What a colony!

  4. Thanks Emily, really enjoyed this and learned a great deal. The vidoes were awesome too. I appreciate the time it took you to do this very much :>)

  5. Great article!! The baby is too cute!!
    Very informative!!

  6. I would love to live near some sea lions, I would watch them all day long. Thanks for the videos, it's the next best thing!


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