EDGE Species Spotlight
Names: Galapagos Sea Lion OR Lobo Marino (Sea Wolf) (Zalophus wallebaeki)
Size: Males have bumps on their foreheads and weigh FOUR times as much as the heavier ladies they beach with. Those at the top of the scales – roughly 900 pounds – aren’t far off the weight of a new Fiat 500!
Communication: Moms spend the first week of their babies’ lives getting to know them, and their one-off calls. Then they leave their pups to forage, returning at night to suckle their hungry charges.
Favourite hangout: Like Barbie’s Ken, Galapagos sea lions love Beach. You’ll find males chilling on it, playing in tide pools or zonked out on benches across town! Girls are more likely to be in the water, some a good 10 to 20 miles from shore, hunting lunch.
Love language: Dominant bulls control large swathes of beach and have unspoken rights to whisper sweet nothings to any cow who plants herself on their turf. So, if you're a Super Stud with Big Beach, you’ll get lots of gals!
Pet peeves: Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures known as El Niño. It affects what’s on the menu for sea lions which, in turn, impacts their desire to get close and personal during the July-to-December mating season. Dogs with transmittable diseases are also a hassle, and so is abundant plastic.
Glow-up: Chestnut brown at birth, Galapagos sea lions shed their baby prettiness at five weeks, replacing it with the brown or grey fur of adults. It takes them a little longer to leave mom. They stay close until they’re weaned at 11 or 12 months.
Eating habits: These guys love sardines and aren’t against diving 2,000 feet to grab a bunch! That’s the deepest any sea lion can go – an underwater feat made possible by their smooth, streamlined shape and ability to hold their breath for 10 minutes.
Facts: This is one of two seal species found in the Galapagos, off the coast of Ecuador. As well as being the smallest of all sea lion species, these dudes are, in fact, fakes. The reason? Unlike real seals, they’re anatomically designed to move their hind flippers under their pelvic girdle, which lets them move at speed when they’re in the mood. About the same pace as a human running over a rocky surface!
Personality type? The Curious Playmate.
How at risk is it? Endangered (EN).
All of these wonderful photos of Galapagos Sea Lions were taken in collaboration with Sebastien Zanella. We sent him on a trip to the Galapagos to capture two young surfers exploring their connections to nature.