California sea lions are usually dark brown.
California sea lions are usually dark brown.
Photograph by Pnwnature, Dreamstime

California Sea Lion

California sea lions live on the western coast of North America from the Baja California peninsula in Mexico to British Columbia. These semi-aquatic mammals feed on fish, squid, and shellfish. They are generally found in open water, where they prefer to fish, but are sometimes found in rivers near the coast as well.

Common Name:
California sea lion
Scientific Name:
Zalophus californianus
Group Name:
Herd, raft
Average Life Span:
Up to 30 years in the wild
Up to 8 feet
Up to 1,000 pounds

These sea lions are an intelligent and social species. They travel in groups of 12 or more, and hang out on man-made structures such as piers and jetties. They gather on remote sandy beaches and rocky areas to breed. During breeding season, males claim and defend their territories. Mothers usually give birth to a single pup after a gestation period of 11 months. The pups are able to swim at birth, although young pups stay on the beach rather than venturing into the water.

California sea lions are usually dark brown, although some females can appear tan. Pups are born with a dark, black-brown coat. The California sea lion is faster than any other sea lion or seal in the world. They can dive to depths of 900 feet, and can stay underwater for nearly ten minutes without breathing by slowing their heart rate.