South American sea lion

The South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens, formerly Otaria byronia), also called the Southern Sea Lion and the Patagonian sea lion, is a sea lion found on the Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Chilean, Falkland Islands, Argentinean, Uruguayan, and Southern Brazilian coasts. It is the only member of the genus Otaria. Its scientific name was subject to controversy, with some taxonomists referring to it as Otaria flavescens and others referring to it as Otaria byronia. The former eventually won out,[3] although that may still be overturned.[4] Locally, it is known by several names, most commonly lobo marino (es)/lobo marinho (pt) (sea wolf) and león marino (es)/leão marinho (pt) (sea lion) and the hair seal.

South American sea lion
Southern Sea Lions
Male and female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Genus: Otaria
Péron, 1816
O. flavescens
Binomial name
Otaria flavescens
(Shaw, 1800)[2]
Otaria flavescens distribution
South American sea lion range

Otaria byronia


Otaria flavescens skeleton
Skeleton of a male South American sea lion

The South American sea lion is perhaps the archetypal sea lion in appearance. Males have a very large head with a well-developed mane, making them the most lionesque of the eared seals. They are twice the weight of females.[5] Both males and females are orange or brown coloured with upturned snouts. Pups are born greyish orange ventrally and black dorsally and moult into a more chocolate colour.

The South American sea lion's size and weight can vary considerably. Adult males can grow over 2.73 m (9 ft) and weigh up to 350 kg (770 lb).[6] Adult females grow up to 1.8–2 m (6–7 ft) and weigh about half the weight of the males, around 150 kg (330 lb). This species is even more sexually dimorphic than the other sea lions.[7]


Seeloewen beagle 3
Sea lions at Beagle Channel

The South American sea lion is found along the coasts and offshore islands of South America, from Peru south to Chile in the Pacific and then north to southern Brazil in the Atlantic.[8] Notable breeding colonies include Lobos Island, Uruguay; Peninsula Valdes, Argentina; Beagle Channel, and the Falkland Islands. Some individuals wander as far north as southern Ecuador, although apparently they never bred there. However, the movement ecology of South American sea lions remains poorly understood, although biologging studies in recent years have advanced our understanding of their at-sea movements at some breeding locations.[9][10][11][12] There is no evidence of a winter migration of sea lions from the Falkland Islands.[13]

South American sea lions breed on beaches made of sand, gravel, rocky, or pebble beaches [8] They can also be seen on flat, rocky cliffs with tidepools.[8] Sea lion colonies tend to be small and scattered, especially on rocky beaches.[8] The colonies make spaces between each individual when the weather is warm and sunny.[8] They can also be found in marinas and wharves, but do not breed there.

South American sea lions consume numerous species of fishes, including Argentine hake and anchovies.[8] They also eat cephalopods, such as shortfin squid, Patagonian squid, and octopus.[8] They have even been observed preying on penguins, pelicans, and young South American fur seals.[14] South American sea lions may forage at the ocean floor for slow-moving prey or hunt schooling prey in groups, depending on the area. When captured, the prey is shaken violently and torn apart. South American sea lions have been recorded to take advantage of the hunting efforts of dusky dolphins, feeding on the fish they herd together.[15] The sea lions themselves are preyed on by killer whales and sharks, and visited as a handy source of blood by common vampire bats from Isla Pan de Azúcar.[16]

Social behavior and reproduction

Mähnenrobben (auch Südamerikanischer Seelöwe - Otaria flavescens) (Peninsula de Valdes, Jan 1984)
Sea lion colony in Patagonia

Mating occurs between August and December, and the pups are born between December and February. Males arrive first to establish and defend territories, but then switch to defending females when they arrive.[7] A male aggressively herds females in his territory and defends both from neighbors and intruders.[7] On rocky beaches, males establish territories where females go to cool off, keeping them until estrus.[8] On cobble or sandy beaches, males have territories near the surf and monopolize females trying to get access to the sea.[8] The number of actual fights between males depends on the number of females in heat.[7] The earlier a male arrives at the site, the longer his tenure will be and the more copulations he will achieve.[7] Males are usually able to keep around three females in their harems, but some have as many as 18.[7]

Male with harem

During the breeding season, males that fail to secure territories and harems, most often subadults, will cause group raids in an attempt to change the status quo and gain access to the females.[17] Group raids are more common on sandy beaches than rocky ones.[17] These raids cause chaos in the breeding harems, often splitting mothers from their young. The resident males try to fight off the raiders and keep all the females in their territorial boundaries. Raiders are often unsuccessful in securing a female, but some are able to capture some females or even stay in the breeding area with one or more females.[17] Sometimes, an invading male abducts pups, possibly as an attempt to control the females.[17] They also take pups as substitutes for mature females.[18] Subadults herd their captured pups and prevent them from escaping, much like adult males do to females.[18] A pup may be mounted by its abductor, but intromission does not occur.[18] While abducting pups does not give males immediate reproductive benefits, these males may gain experience in controlling females.[18] Pups are sometimes severely injured or killed during abductions.[17][18]

Despite being mostly a harem-territorial species, one population in Peru has been recorded having a lek-like breeding system. Here, with its longer ratio of males in comparison to females, the males cluster together and display and try to attract females while allowing then to move freely. The warmer climate also makes the females move constantly to the water, further making the traditional mating system difficult to maintain. The group raids that exist in temperate populations are virtually non-existent here.[19]

Otaria flavescens -Patagonia-8
Female sea lion and pup

Sea lion mothers remain with their newborn pups for nearly a week before making a routine of taking three-day foraging trips and coming back to nurse the pups.[7][8] They act aggressively to other females that come close to their pups, as well as alien pups that try to get milk from them.[20] Pups first enter the water at about four weeks and are weaned at about 12 months. This is normally when the mother gives birth to a new pup. Pups gradually spend more time in the nearshore surf and develop swimming skills.[8]

South American sea lions are observed to make various vocalizations and calls which differ between sexes and ages.[21] Adult males make high-pitched calls during aggressive interactions,[21] barks when establishing territories,[21] growls when interacting with females,[21] and exhalations after antagonistic encounters.[21] Females with pups make a mother primary call when interacting with their pups,[21] and grunts during aggressive encounters with other females.[21] Pups make pup primary calls.[21] Some of those vocalizations and acoustic features may support individuality.[21]

Human interactions

Valdivian sea lions
Urban sea lion colony in the city of Valdivia, Chile
Stensjölejon i Mar del Plata
Sea lion, symbol of Mar del Plata
Otaria flavescens (byronia) fur skin, coloured
Sea lion skins

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped the sea and its animals. They often depicted South American sea lions in their art.[22] Two statues of this species are the symbol of the city of Mar del Plata.

Indigenous peoples of South America exploited this species for millennia and by Europeans around the 16th century.[23] The hunting has since gone down and the species is no longer threatened. The species is protected in most of its range.[1] Numerous reserves and protected areas at rookeries and haul-out sites exist for the sea lions.[1] Despite this, protection regulations are not effectively enforced in much of animals' range.[1]

The overall population of sea lions is considered stable; the estimate is 265,000 animals. They are declining in the Falkland Islands, and in Argentina Patagonia, but are increasing in Chile and Uruguay.[1] Many sea lions of the Peruvian population died in the 1997/1998 el Niño.[1] [24] They still are killed due to their habits of stealing fish and damaging fishing nets.[1] Sea lions in the port of Mar del Plata have been found with toxic chemicals and heavy metals in their systems.[25]

This species is sometimes kept in captivity.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Campagna, C. (2008). "Otaria flavescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  2. ^ Shaw, George (1800). "Yellow seal". General Zoology. Vol. 1. Part 2. Mammalia. London: G. Kearsley. pp. 260–261.
  3. ^ Rodriguez, D., R. Bastida. 1993. The southern sea lion, Otaria byronia or Otaria flavescens?. Marine Mammal Science, 9(4): 372-381.
  4. ^ Berta, A. & Churchill, M. (2012). "Pinniped Taxonomy: evidence for species and subspecies". Mammal Review. 42 (3): 207–234. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00193.x.
  5. ^ Kindersley, Dorling (2001,2005). Animal. New York City: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5. Check date values in: |year= (help)
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Campagna, C., B. Le Boeuf. 1988. "Reproductive behavior of southern sea lions". Behaviour, 104(3-4): 233-261.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Randall R. Reeves; Brent S. Stewart; Phillip J. Clapham; James A. Powell (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0375411410.
  9. ^ Riet-Sapriza FG, Costa DP, Franco-Trecu V et al (2013) Foraging behavior of lactating South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens) and spatial–temporal resource overlap with the Uruguayan fisheries. Deep Sea Res Part II 88–89:106–119.
  10. ^ Rodríguez DH, Dassis M, Ponce de León A et al (2013) Foraging strategies of Southern sea lion females in the La Plata River Estuary (Argentina–Uruguay). Deep Sea Res Part II 88–89:120– 130.
  11. ^ Baylis AMM, Orben RA, Costa DP, Tierney M, Brickle P, Staniland IJ. Habitat use and spatial fidelity of male South American sea lions during the nonbreeding period. Ecol Evol. 2017;7:3992–4002.
  12. ^ Baylis, A.M.M., Orben, R.A., et al. Diving deeper into individual foraging specializations of a large marine predator, the southern sea lion Oecologia (2015) 179: 1053.
  13. ^ Baylis AMM, Orben RA, Arnould JPY, Christiansen F, Hays GC, Staniland IJ (2015) Disentangling the cause of a catastrophic population decline in a large marine mammal. Ecology 96: 2834-2847.
  14. ^ Harcourt, R (1993). "Individual variation in predation on fur seals by southern sea lions (Otaria byronia) in Peru". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 71: 1908–1911. doi:10.1139/z93-273.
  15. ^ Würsig, B. and Würsig, M. 1980. "Behavior and ecology of the dusky dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obscurus, in the South Atlantic". Fishery Bulletin 77: 871-890.
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c d e Campagna, C., B. Le Boeuf, H. Capposso. 1988. "Group raids: a mating strategy of male southern sea lions". Behaviour, 105(3-4): 224-249.
  18. ^ a b c d e Campagna, C., B. Le Boeuf, H. Cappozzo. 1988. "Pup abduction and infanticide in southern sea lions". Behaviour, 107(1-2): 44-60.
  19. ^ Soto, K. H.; Trites, A. W. (2011). "South American sea lions in Peru have a lek-like mating system". Marine Mammal Science. 27 (2): 306–333. doi:10.1111/j.1748-7692.2010.00405.x.
  20. ^ Esteban Fernández-Juricic and Marcelo H. Cassini. "Intra-sexual female agonistic behaviour of the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) in two colonies with different breeding substrates". Acta Ethologica, Volume 10, Number 1, 23-28, doi:10.1007/s10211-006-0024-4. (2007)
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i Esteban Fernández-Juricic, Claudio Campagna, Víctor Enriquez and Charles Leo Ortiz "Vocal Communication and Individual Variation in Breeding South American Sea Lions". Behaviour, Vol. 136, No. 4 (May, 1999), pp. 495-517
  22. ^ Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  23. ^ Rodriguez, D. and Bastida, R. 1998. "Four hundred years in the history of pinniped colonies around Mar del Plata, Argentina". Aquatic Conservation of Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 8: 721-735.
  24. ^ Baylis, A. M. M., Orben, R. A., Arnould, J. P. Y., Christiansen, F., Hays, G. C. and Staniland, I. J. (2015), Disentangling the cause of a catastrophic population decline in a large marine mammal. Ecology, 96: 2834–2847. doi:10.1890/14-1948.1.
  25. ^ Sepulveda, M., M. Alvarado-Rybak, C. Verdugo, E. Quiroz, C. Valencia, C. Munoz-Zanzi, R. Tamayo. Pathogens and heavy metals in Southern sea lions (Otaria flavescens) in Valdivia city, Chile. Arch Med Vet. In review.
Alberto de Agostini National Park

Alberto de Agostini National Park (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈβeɾto ðe aɣosˈtini]) is a protected area that was created on January 22, 1965, on land that was formerly part of the "Hollanda" forest reserve and "Hernando de Magallanes National Park". It covers 1,460,000 hectares (3,607,739 acres) and includes the Cordillera Darwin mountain range, which is the final land-based stretch of the Andes before it becomes a chain of mountains appearing as small islands that sink into the Pacific Ocean and the Beagle Channel.

The park, along with Cabo de Hornos National Park, was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. As part of the Magallanes Sub-Polar (or Sub-Antarctic) Evergreen Rainforest, UNESCO highlights the area’s "mosaic of contrasting ecosystems and unique and singular characteristics on a world level."Several tidewater glaciers and steep fjords can be found in the park. It also comprises the Gordon, Cook and Londonderry islands, as well as part of Hoste Island (excluding the Hardy Peninsula and other portions).


Archaeodobenus is an extinct genus of pinniped that lived during the Late Miocene of what is now Japan. It belonged to the Odobenidae family, which is today only represented by the walrus, but was much more diverse in the past, containing at least 16 genera. Unlike the modern walrus, Archaeodobenus did not have tusks but instead had canines of moderate size, and looked more like a sea lion.

The first known specimen was collected in 1977 from the Ichibangawa Formation in Tobetsu Town on the island of Hokkaido. The specimen consists of a partial skull, vertebrae, and limb bones, and was made the holotype specimen of the new genus and species A. akamatsui by the Japanese palaeontologists Yoshihiro Tanaka and Naoki Kohno in 2015. The generic name consists of archaio, the Greek word for ancient, and the generic name of the walrus, Odobenus; in full, "ancient walrus". The specific name honours Morio Akamatsu, a curator of the Hokkaido Museum.The diversity of odobenids increased during the Late Miocene and Pliocene (about 12.5 million to 10.5 million years ago), perhaps linked to marine regression and transgression, which could have geographically isolated their ancestors. Archaeodobenus was the contemporary of the odobenid Pseudotaria from the same formation, which it may have diverged from in the western North Pacific during the Late Miocene. Archaeodobenus appears to have been closer related to later odobenids such as Imagotaria, Pontolis, the subfamily Odobeninae, whereas Pseudotaria seems to have been more basal.The holotype specimen appears to have been a young adult male of about 3 metres (10 ft) in length, which would have weighed around 473 kg (1,042 lb). This is intermediate between the size of the Steller sea lion and the South American sea lion. Its canines were 86.3 mm (3.4 in) long, while those of a walrus are up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) long in comparison. Archaeodobenus can be distinguished from Pseudotaria by features such as the shape and size of the occipital condyle (which connects with the first neck vertebra at the back of the skull), the foramen magnum (the opening through which the spinal chord passes into the cranium), the mastoid process (where various muscles attach to the back of the skull), as well as some features in the postcranial skeleton.

Asiatic linsang

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.

Eared seal

An eared seal or otariid or otary is any member of the marine mammal family Otariidae, one of three groupings of pinnipeds. They comprise 15 extant species in seven genera (another species became extinct in the 1950s) and are commonly known either as sea lions or fur seals, distinct from true seals (phocids) and the walrus (odobenids). Otariids are adapted to a semiaquatic lifestyle, feeding and migrating in the water, but breeding and resting on land or ice. They reside in subpolar, temperate, and equatorial waters throughout the Pacific and Southern Oceans and the southern Indian and Atlantic Oceans. They are conspicuously absent in the north Atlantic.

The words 'otariid' and 'otary' come from the Greek otarion meaning "little ear", referring to the small but visible external ear flaps (pinnae), which distinguishes them from the phocids.

Enteroctopus megalocyathus

Enteroctopus megalocyathus, also known as the southern red octopus, is a medium-sized octopus, and the type species for the genus Enteroctopus.

Falkland Islands pound

The Pound is the currency of the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. The symbol is the pound sign, £, or alternatively FK£, to distinguish it from other pound-denominated currencies. The ISO 4217 currency code is FKP.

The Falkland Islands pound has always been pegged to the pound sterling at par and banknotes of both currencies are used interchangeably on the islands (although only notes issued by banks in the United Kingdom are generally accepted in Britain itself).


Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.

Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)

Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)


Galerella is a genus of the mongoose family (Herpestidae) native to Africa and commonly called the slender mongooses.There are four or five species in this genus, with more than 30 subspecies.

Four of the species have long been established:

A recent addition is the black mongoose, Galerella nigrata, which now is considered a separate species by many scientists, following genetic analysis. It was previously seen as a variant of Galerella sanguinea.


Inbreeding is the production of offspring from the mating or breeding of individuals or organisms that are closely related genetically. By analogy, the term is used in human reproduction, but more commonly refers to the genetic disorders and other consequences that may arise from expression of deleterious or recessive traits resulting from incestuous sexual relationships and consanguinity.

Inbreeding results in homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by deleterious or recessive traits. This usually leads to at least temporarily decreased biological fitness of a population (called inbreeding depression), which is its ability to survive and reproduce. An individual who inherits such deleterious traits is colloquially referred to as inbred. The avoidance of expression of such deleterious recessive alleles caused by inbreeding, via inbreeding avoidance mechanisms, is the main selective reason for outcrossing. Crossbreeding between populations also often has positive effects on fitness-related traits, but also sometimes leads to negative effects known as outbreeding depression. However increased homozygosity increases probability of fixing beneficial alleles and also slightly decreases probability of fixing deleterious alleles in population. Inbreeding can result in purging of deleterious alleles from a population through purifying selection.Inbreeding is a technique used in selective breeding. For example, in livestock breeding, breeders may use inbreeding when trying to establish a new and desirable trait in the stock and for producing distinct families within a breed, but will need to watch for undesirable characteristics in offspring, which can then be eliminated through further selective breeding or culling. Inbreeding also helps to ascertain the type of gene action affecting a trait. Inbreeding is also used to reveal deleterious recessive alleles, which can then be eliminated through assortative breeding or through culling. In plant breeding, inbred lines are used as stocks for the creation of hybrid lines to make use of the effects of heterosis. Inbreeding in plants also occurs naturally in the form of self-pollination.

Inbreeding can significantly influence gene expression which can prevent inbreeding depression.

Isla de la Plata

Isla de la Plata is a small island off the coast of Manabí, Ecuador, and is part of Parque Nacional Machalilla. It can be reached by boat from the city of Puerto López, which is 40 kilometers away.

On the island, there is a large diversity of animal species, including the blue-footed booby, red-footed booby, and the Nazca booby. Another species found here is the South American sea lion.Guided tours of the island are given on a couple of different hiking trails.

There is a shrine from Inca times located in the island.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.

Pan de Azúcar National Park

Pan de Azúcar National Park is a national park of Chile. The park straddles the border between the Antofagasta Region and the Atacama Region. Its name, Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, means "sugar loaf national park".


Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Sea lion

Sea lions are sea mammals characterized by external ear flaps, long foreflippers, the ability to walk on all fours, short, thick hair, and a big chest and belly. Together with the fur seals, they comprise the family Otariidae, eared seals, which contains six extant and one extinct species (the Japanese sea lion) in five genera. Their range extends from the subarctic to tropical waters of the global ocean in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the notable exception of the northern Atlantic Ocean. They have an average lifespan of 20–30 years. A male California sea lion weighs on average about 300 kg (660 lb) and is about 8 ft (2.4 m) long, while the female sea lion weighs 100 kg (220 lb) and is 6 ft (1.8 m) long. The largest sea lion is Steller's sea lion, which can weigh 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) and grow to a length of 10 ft (3.0 m). Sea lions consume large quantities of food at a time and are known to eat about 5–8% of their body weight (about 15–35 lb (6.8–15.9 kg)) at a single feeding. Sea lions can go around 16 knots in water and at their fastest they can go up to 30 knots. Three species, the Australian sea lion, the Galápagos sea lion and the New Zealand sea lion are listed as Endangered.

Extant Carnivora species

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