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California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

The California sea lion is found from southern Mexico to southwestern Canada.  The breeding areas of the California sea lion are on islands located in southern California in the U.S. and in western Baja California and the Gulf of California in Mexico.  Males establish breeding territories May through July on both land and in the water. Females come ashore in May and June where they give birth to a single pup 4 to 5 days after arrival.  Females nurse pups for about a week before going on their first feeding trip.  They alternate feeding trips with nursing bouts until the pup is weaned between at 4 and 10 months of age.  In normal years, adult and juvenile males migrate as far north as British Columbia, Canada while females and pups remain in southern California waters in the non-breeding season.  In warm water (El Niño) years, some females are found as far north as Washington and Oregon, presumably following prey.  Adult males can be as large as 2.4 m and 390 kg; adult females average 2m and 110 kg.

MML Research Recent MML California Sea Lion Publications
  • RUST, L. B., K. DANIL, S. R. MELIN, and B. WILKERSON. 2019. Accuracy and precision of age determination using growth layer groups for California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) with known ages. Mar. Mam. Sci. 35:1355-1368.   Online.
  • LAAKE, J. L., M. S. LOWRY, R. L. DELONG, S. R. MELIN, and J. V. CARRETTA. 2018. Population growth and status of California sea lions. J. Wildl. Manage. 82:583-595.   Online.
  • LOWRY, M. S., S. R. MELIN, and J. L. LAAKE. 2017. Breeding season distribution and population growth of California sea lions, Zalophus californianus, in the United States during 1964-2014. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFSC-574, 63p.  Online.
  • DeLONG, R. L., S. R. MELIN, J. L. LAAKE, P. MORRIS, A. J. ORR, and J. D. HARRIS. 2017. Age- and sex-specific survival of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) at San Miguel Island, California. Mar. Mammal Sci. 33:1097-1125.   Online.
  • Search the AFSC database for additional California Sea Lion publications
Recent MML California Sea Lion Posters
  • Shark-inflicted Lesions on California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) at San Miguel Island, California: a New Phenomenon
    1.13 MB  Online.
  • Intraspecific Comparison of California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) Diet Assessed Using Fecal and Stable Isotope Analyses
    1.09 MB  Online.
  • Examination of Ontogenetic Trends in Foraging Behaviors of California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) using Stable Isotope Analysis
    1.06 MB  Online.
  • Search the AFSC database for additional California Sea Lion posters
California Sea Lion Stock Assessment Reports
MML Education Web (these pages are targeted toward students!) Management California Sea Lion Images Other links

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