May 18, 2012

Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea)

Did you know?

That the Lion of the Sea of Australia is the only species of pinniped endemic to Australia? It is also the least numerous species among pinnipeds in Australia.

The male Australian Sea Lion can reach a length of 2.5 meters and weigh 300 kg. The color of its skin is brown and grows darker as they mature. The female Australian Sea Lion are considerably smaller, reaching a length of 1.8 m and a weight of about 100 kg. Their skin is gray, silver, light brown, and belly is even brighter. 

The Australian Sea Lion breeding colonies are small, consisting of several hundred animals or less. However, except for the breeding season, they are usually antisocial. They do not migrate and spend more time ashore during molting (the renewal of the skin of the body). 

The breeding cycle is uncommon, lasting 18 months (compared with other seals, whose cycles last 12 months) and there is no synchronization between colonies. Australian Sea Lions are monogamous. They stay with one female for several weeks until they mate, then return to sea to feed and look to the next female. Gestation lasts about 12 months. If the female does not give birth in consecutive seasons, the babies can be breastfed until 2-3 years. Their diet consists of fish, octopus, squid and penguins from time to time.

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