Eumetopias – Steller sea lion

They are able to hold their breath for as long as 40 minutes, and the deepest dive ever recorded is 424 m (140 ft)

As the largest sea lion species, the Steller Sea Lion is surpassed in size only by the walrus and the two species of elephant seals among pinnipeds. This species showcases a range of adaptations that allow it to thrive in the cold waters of the North Pacific, from the coast of California all the way to the northern reaches of Japan.

The Steller Sea Lion exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males significantly larger than females. Adult males can weigh over 1 ton (about 2,200 pounds), with females weighing considerably less. Their pelage varies in color from tawny to pale yellow and sometimes even reddish, depending on the individual and the season. One of their remarkable physical traits is their agility on land, facilitated by their ability to move their hind flippers independently. This adaptation allows them to navigate rocky shores and beaches with surprising ease for animals of their size.

As carnivorous mammals, Steller Sea Lions have a diverse diet that reflects the richness of the marine environment in which they live. They are adept hunters, foraging in both nearshore and pelagic waters, primarily at night. Their diet mainly consists of fish such as walleye pollock, Atka mackerel, Pacific salmon, and Pacific cod, which are abundant in their habitat. In addition to these primary food sources, Steller Sea Lions also consume a variety of invertebrates, including bivalves, squids, octopuses, and gastropods. On rare occasions, they may prey on other pinnipeds, demonstrating their opportunistic feeding behavior.

The Steller Sea Lion is classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has faced significant challenges due to commercial fishing practices, which not only reduce their food sources but also pose risks of entanglement in fishing gear. Other threats include habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change, which impacts the availability of their prey.