Steller Sea Lion

Page - January 16, 2008
Estimated population: 85,000, endangered in Alaska, IUCN Red list


Steller sea lions

Ways to identify this species:
light buff to reddish brown fur, lightly darker on chest and belly, 7.5-11 feet in length


Biology

  • Steller sea lions are distributed across the North Pacific Ocean rim from Northern Japan and Russia, the Aleutian Islands, central Bering Sea, southern coast of Alaska, and south to the Channel Islands of California.
  • During the May through July breeding season, steller sea lions congregate at more than 40 rookeries, where adult males defend territories, pups are born, and mating takes place.
  • Opportunistic predators, steller sea lions feed on a  variety of fish and cephalopods including walleyed pollock, salmon and squid.
  • Male stellers can weigh up to 2,400lbs. and females up to 800lbs.


Threats

  • Steller sea lions were the most abundant marine mammal until their precipitous decline in the early 1980's. The reasons for the decline are not known, but may be related to the depletion of pollock and other fish from  critical habitat areas by bottom trawler fishing.
  • These sea lions are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.

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