Title: Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea)
Group: Marine mammals
Dimension: Size 2-2.5 metres, weight as much as roughly 100kg (females) or 250kg (males)
Food regimen: Carnivores, consuming a wide range of demersal fish, elasmobranchs (rays), rock lobster, cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish, octopus) and gastropods
Habitat: South coast of Australia together with WA and SA
Conservation standing: Endangered
Superpower: Australian sea lions are the one seal that doesn’t breed yearly, as a substitute getting collectively each 17.5 months.
Australian sea lions on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Credit score: Marc Dozier / The Picture Financial institution / Getty Pictures.
The Australia sea lion is the one pinniped, or seal, discovered completely in Australia. Many individuals can recount a story of encountering a pleasant sea lion within the water and of how agile, curious and playful these marine mammals may be.
Australian sea lions could seem like massive, docile, goofy canines when resting on islands between foraging forays, but when approached they will transfer shortly over land and inflict a nasty chunk if they’re threatened – residing as much as their leonine title. They prefer to feed on prized and extremely palatable fish species, together with rock lobster and salmon – placing them in direct competitors with people.
Grownup male sea lions in good breeding situation are pigeon-chested and may weigh over a few hundred kilograms. They sport blonde manes on the crown of their heads that contrasts starkly with their darkish coats. Males are significantly protecting within the breeding colonies, guarding their mates early within the breeding season.
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An Australian sea lion pup, grownup male and grownup feminine. Credit score: Holly Raudino.
Feminine sea lions, often known as ‘cows’, will usually return to breed on the island the place they had been born. If a pup is approached or threatened whereas its mum is at sea foraging, a cow will defend the pup, even when it isn’t her personal!
The pups are born darkish brown, with endearing massive, teary, broad eyes. Their fur lightens over a number of months, changing into a light-weight silver gray when they’re totally moulted. Pups are often weaned after a number of months, though there are information of some suckling for 18 months.
If life was solely about feeding and breeding, some might imagine the ocean lion, significantly the males, lead an idyllic and charmed life. Nonetheless, all shouldn’t be effectively for Australian sea lions. They attain sexual maturity shortly, with females breeding at 4-6 years of age, however their uncommon breeding cycle, robust loyalty to their natal islands, and variations in breeding timing throughout completely different islands have doubtless inhibited their inhabitants development.
An Australian sea lion pup snoozing. Credit score: Holly Raudino.
Australian sea lions will also be caught, injured or drowned in interactions with the fishing trade. They’re additional threatened by decline of their prey species, harassment on their breeding islands, and parasites comparable to hookworms. Fortunately, medicines to fight the hookworm downside in South Australian sea lion colonies are having encouraging outcomes.
Regardless of being a flagship and charismatic species, the Australian sea lion’s newest inhabitants figures are regarding, with the inhabitants declining by over 60% over 40 years. The species was sadly listed as endangered underneath our nationwide laws, the EPBC Act, on the finish of 2020.
This species is way extra distinctive than a bizarre moist canine and is one marine mammal that deserves your vote!
All of us love birds, however why ought to our feathered mates get all of the enjoyable? This winter, be a part of Cosmos in celebrating the superb range of Australian mammals, from antechinus to yellow-footed rock-wallaby, in our first-ever Australian Mammal of the 12 months ballot.
Keep watch over the Cosmos web site or subscribe to our e mail listing for new articles about superior Australian mammal species each week. You possibly can even nominate your individual favorite Australian mammal utilizing the shape under!