Sea lion


Sea lion
Otariids
Temporal range: Late Oligocene – Recent
California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Superfamily: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae

Sea lions are pinnipeds characterized by external ear-flaps, long fore-flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, and short thick hair. Together with the fur seal, they comprise the family Otariidae, or eared seals. There are 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.[1]. They have an average life span of 20-30 years.

Contents

Taxonomy

Steller sea lions haul out on a rock off the coast of Raspberry Island (Alaska).

Together with the fur seals, they constitute the Otariidae family, collectively known as eared seals. Until recently, sea lions were grouped under a single subfamily called Otariinae to distinguish them from the fur seals Arcocephalinae, based on the most prominent common feature between all species, namely the lack of the dense underfur characteristic of the latter. Recent genetic evidence, however, strongly suggests that Callorhinus, the genus of the Northern fur seal is more closely related to some sea lion species than to the other fur seal genus Arctocephalus.[2] Therefore the fur seal/sealion subfamily distinction has been eliminated from many taxonomies. Sea lions are related to the walrus and the seal. Nonetheless, all fur seals have certain features in common: the fur, generally smaller sizes, farther and longer foraging trips, smaller and more abundant prey items and greater sexual dimorphism. All sea lions have certain features in common, in particular their coarse, short fur, greater bulk and larger prey than fur seals. For these reasons, the distinction remains useful.

Interactions with humans

Some species of sea lion are readily trainable and are often a popular attraction at zoos and aquariums. The archetypal circus "seal" performing behaviors such as throwing and catching balls on its nose and clapping is almost always a sea lion.[citation needed]

Sea lions have been trained by the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program, based in San Diego, to detain scuba divers.[3]

Sea lion attacks on humans are rare. In a highly unusual attack in 2007 in Western Australia a sea lion leapt from the water and seriously mauled a 13-year old girl surfing behind a speedboat. The sea lion appeared to be preparing for a second attack when the girl was rescued. An Australian marine biologist opined the sea lion may have viewed the girl "like a rag doll toy" to be played with.[4][5][6] In San Francisco where an increasingly large population of California sea lion crowds dock along San Francisco Bay, there have been incidents in recent years of swimmers being bitten on the leg by large aggressive males, possibly as a territorial act.[7][8][9]

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped the sea and its animals. They often depicted sea lions in their art.[10]

Sea lions have also been reported to assist or save humans who show signs of distress in the open waters. In June of 2000, Kevin Hines leaped into the San Francisco bay and it was reported that he was saved by a sea lion that kept him afloat and breathing till the paramedics arrived.[11]

Images

Sea lions at Moss Landing, California GiGi, a sea lion trained by the U.S. Navy for underwater recovery, nuzzles merchant mariner Capt. Arne Willehag of the USNS Sioux during a 1983 training session. Sea lion head.jpg
A gathering of more than 40 sea lions off the coast of California. A military sea lion on board a US navy ship. A sea lion at the Memphis Zoo.

See also

References

  1. ^ "ANIMAL BYTES - Sea Lions & Fur Seals". http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/Animal-Bytes/animalia/eumetazoa/coelomates/deuterostomes/chordata/craniata/mammalia/pinnipedia/sea-lions-&-fur-seals.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  2. ^ Wynen, L.P. et al.; Goldsworthy, SD; Insley, SJ; Adams, M; Bickham, JW; Francis, J; Gallo, JP; Hoelzel, AR et al. (2001). "Phylogenetic relationships within the eared seals (Otariidae: Carnivora): implications for the historical biogeography of the family". Mol. Phylog. Evol. 21 (2): 270–284. doi:10.1006/mpev.2001.1012. PMID 11697921. 
  3. ^ Watkins, Thomas (2007-02-12). "Navy may deploy anti-terrorism dolphins". Associated Press. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/archive/Navy_Trains_Marine_Mammals_to_Track_Threats_All__National_.html. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  4. ^ BBC News: Sea lion attacks Australian girl
  5. ^ news.com.au: Monster sea lion likely to be 'playing' with teen
  6. ^ Sea lion mauls girl
  7. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/11/16/MNGMFMDVGC1.DTL&hw=sea+lion&sn=011&sc=518
  8. ^ http://cbs5.com/pets/sea.lion.bite.2.859412.html
  9. ^ http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-10-07/news/too-cute-to-shoot/
  10. ^ Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  11. ^ San Francisco Chronicle: Lethal Beauty / A Survivor's Story

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sea lion — Sea li on (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of several large species of seals of the family {Otariid[ae]} native of the Pacific Ocean, especially the southern sea lion ({Otaria jubata}) of the South American coast; the northern sea lion ({Eumetopias Stelleri})… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sea-lion — (n.) c.1600, kind of lobster, from SEA (Cf. sea) + LION (Cf. lion). Later a fabulous animal (in heraldry, etc.), 1660s. Applied from 1690s to various species of large eared seals. As code name for the planned German invasion of Britain, it… …   Etymology dictionary

  • sea lion — sea lions also sea lion N COUNT A sea lion is a type of large seal …   English dictionary

  • sea lion — sea .lion n a large type of ↑seal that lives near the coast in the Pacific Ocean …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sea lion — sea ,lion noun count a large type of SEAL …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • sea lion — ► NOUN ▪ a large seal of the Pacific Ocean, the male of which has a mane on the neck and shoulders …   English terms dictionary

  • sea lion — n. any of several genera of large, eared seals without underfur, usually living in colonies along the Pacific coastline …   English World dictionary

  • sea lion — 1. any of several large eared seals, as Eumetopias jubatus (Steller s sea lion), of the northern Pacific, and Zalophus californicus (California sea lion), of the Pacific coast of North America. 2. Heraldry. a monster having the forepart of a lion …   Universalium

  • sea lion — noun any of several large eared seals of the northern Pacific related to fur seals but lacking their valuable coat • Hypernyms: ↑eared seal • Hyponyms: ↑South American sea lion, ↑Otaria Byronia, ↑California sea lion, ↑Zalophus californianus, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • sea lion — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms sea lion : singular sea lion plural sea lions a large type of seal …   English dictionary


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