Sea lions are mammals in the family of Otariidae. They have recognizable flippers, and they’re close relatives to seals and walruses. They live on ocean coastlines around the world and love to eat fish. Everyone loves to visit the sea lions at the zoo!
Many of us have oo-ed and ah-ed at pictures of adorable baby sea lions. They are some of the cutest creatures around. Called “pups,” these little animals are pretty incredible. Here are seven pictures of baby sea lions and some amazing facts about them!
1. Baby Sea Lions Can Always Find Their Mom On The Shore
Baby sea lions have really great ears! Pups are often left on shores while their parents go off to find food. When the adult sea lions return, there can be hundreds of these mammals lined up on beaches, trying to reconnect with their family.
Baby sea lions are able to find their mother just by recognizing her unique sound! Typically, the beaches are full of sea lions trying to make their way back to their groups, so it can be noisy. It’s impressive that pups can recognize their mom like that!
2. Pups Are Born Very Developed
When sea lions are born, they have their eyes wide open. It’s amazing what a sea lion can do right out of the womb. In less than an hour, pups are able to walk and move around with ease. Compare that to humans, who take between 10 and 18 months to start walking around!
While their movements onshore are solid from the get-go, pups do take a bit to learn how to swim. They can somewhat stay afloat, but they definitely learn the skill after birth.
3. Sea Lions Can Move Pretty Quickly!
It can be difficult to determine a sea lion from a seal if you don’t know the differences between the two. While they’re related, there are a few things that are very different. One of those things is movement on land. Seals hop along on land, while sea lions can run!
The fastest sea lion movement recorded on land was 27 mph. In comparison, the average human sprinting speed is less than 20 mph. Who knew that a sea lion could beat you in a race?
4. Sea Lions Are Impressive Underwater.
Baby sea lions take a few weeks to start learning how to swim. It doesn’t take long after that, though, to master the art of swimming and fishing. Once adults, sea lions can hold their breath underwater for up to twenty minutes!
Some underwater mammals take a deep breath in before heading under the surface of the water, but sea lions take a big breath out. They exhale all their air and then head beneath the water. Their tolerance for carbon dioxide is the primary reason sea lions are able to stay underwater for such long periods of time.
5. Sea Lions Grow Quickly Because of Their Mother’s Milk.
Sea lions nurse directly from their mothers for anywhere between 6 months and a year. The milk that their mothers give them is unique because of its fat content. The milk is 35% fat, which helps the sea lion grow incredibly quickly!
One way to understand the gravity of this fact is by comparing sea lion milk to other mammal milk. Human breastmilk, for example, is only 3-5% fat. When you look at the fat content differential, it can help clarify why sea lions seem to grow so quickly. Sea lions reach full sexual maturity between 3 and 5 years of age.
6. New Moms Can Be Aggressive!
Right after a pup is born, the pup’s mom is intensely territorial. Mother sea lions will threaten other sea lions viciously for at least the first few days. Eventually, this intensity settles down, but the protective nature remains.
Some relatives of sea lions exhibit fostering behavior on a regular basis. However, it’s not common for a mother sea lion to raise sea lions that are not her own. The family units are very close during the early days after the birth of a sea lion pup.
7. Sea Lions Live For A Long Time.
Sea lions live to be twenty years old, on average. The oldest-recorded sea lion was 30 years of age! The way to find out how old a sea lion is is by looking at their teeth. Sea lions develop growth layers on their teeth over their lifetime, so counting the layers is the best indicator of how old the sea lion is.
Pups are born with teeth just like their grown-ups. Sea lions have between 34 and 38 teeth total which equip them for tearing through fish and other organisms.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Robert Crow/Shutterstock.com
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