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Details about: Steller Sea Lions
Steller_Sea_Lion_on_CanadianWildlife.comThe clowns of Canadian waters are the Steller Sea Lions. Intense curiosity coupled with a built-in playfulness, make Steller Sea Lions a joy to watch and observe while travelling on the West Coast of Canada!

Also known as Northern Sea Lions, Steller Sea Lions were named after the German naturalist Wilhelm Steller who, after first describing the Steller Sea Lion in 1741, described them as the "lion of the sea" with a lion like roar and leonine eyes with golden pupils.

During poor weather, Steller Sea Lions prefer to spend most of their time in the water. It is in the water that they are in their true element. Swimming, jumping, "porpoising" and interacting with each other is how most visitors see Steller Sea Lions when visiting. During calm, sunny weather huge groups of Steller Sea Lions can be seen hauled up on rocky beaches to bask in the sun. Steller Sea Lions have very powerful front flippers and, being able to draw their hind flippers up under their body, can easily and quickly climb up rocky outcroppings. Once hauled out on rocks they begin an orchestra of noise that can be heard for over 1/2 mile (800 meters). With the older males sounding off in a "lion-like" roar, combined with the grunts, groans, grumbles, growls and bellows it is very hard to miss a group of Steller Sea Lions hauled out on the rocks. During this time, many of the juveniles as well as some adults play and frolic in the water, occasionally climbing up the rocky shores to play a game of "King of the Hill", pushing and shoving each other to claim the top spot.
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This skill development is important for these Steller Sea Lions as they grow and mature. Bull males fight vicious battles to claim ownership to their harem of 10 - 30 females and there are a few major rookeries located along the western North American coast. Male Steller Sea Lions that are beaten in battle, along with the young males and non-reproducing females, form loose colonies.

Feeding primarily on fish, such as blackfish, greenling and rockfish, Steller Sea Lions are very organized and social. While feeding, they do not dive individually but rather as an entire group, usually in water less than 600 ft (180 m). It is believed that by diving as a group, one diving individual does not scare off potential food and everyone is able to catch their fill. Steller Sea Lions' teeth are ill suited to chewing and they regularly swallow large chunks of fish and other prey. They have been observed swallowing rocks up to 5" (12 cm) across which is thought to assist in breaking down and pulverizing these large chunks of meat in their stomachs.

Steller Sea Lions have a huge range extending from southern California up the entire West coast to the Aleutian Islands across to Siberia and ending in northern Japan. Being hunted to excess, the Steller Sea Lion was listed and protected in some areas of its range under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. The eastern group of Steller Sea Lions has begun to make a recovery as the number of Sea Lions older than pups has been continually increasing.

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