Latin name: Zalophus californianus

A pinniped found on and off the west coast, ranging from Baja California to British Columbia. They have also been sighted in Alaska waters. One subspecies was also found in the Sea of Japan, but was probably exterminated during the battles of World War II. They prefer to breed on sandy island beaches in the warmer climates.

California sea lions are easily distinguished by sex; males grow about 2.5m in length, and weigh about 425kg. They will have brown fur, and a think mane around their neck. Females only grow to 2m, and weigh only 125kg. They are usually lighter than males, and have no mane. California sea lions are the only pinniped known to 'bark', making an 'Ou! Ou! Ou!' sound. Males tend to bark more than females. They eat whatever fish is in abundance, and seem to know when and where this will happen.

Sea lions are very social animals when they are not breeding, and territorial when they are. When they are out of the water, they prefer to lie touching or laying on each other. During mating season, males will stake out a stretch of beach and an area of water, and females will pass freely through these territories in search of a desirable mate. California Sea Lions live for 18 to 20 years in the wild, and up to 25 years in captivity.

If you ever see a "trained seal" at a circus or zoo balancing a ball on its nose, or honking horns, clapping its flippers, or barking on command, it's probably a California Sea Lion. If it were a real seal, it would be much smaller, it would not be able to balance anything, as it would be lying flat on its stomach, it would not be able to honk or clap anything, as its flippers are not jointed and pretty much vestigial for landside purposes, and the only sounds it would make would sound like long, controlled belches.

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