Along the western coast and islands of North America
from southeast Alaska to central Mexico
The Californian sea lion
Adept swimmers, the Californian sea lions have a streamlined body and ear passages and nostrils can be closed underwater. They have large eyes and well-developed vision as they spend a lot of time underwater with reduced light levels. At the surface, where there is brightness and glare, the pupil is contracted to a tiny pinhole, protecting the sensitive retinas.
Vocal and playful pinnipeds
Sea lions often vocalise underwater and are able to locate sound sources easily. Playful and exuberant, they are highly vocal and bark like dogs. Pups produce a bleat-like call. These social animals congregate in large colonies on land and smaller groups in the water, called rafts.
Military marine mammals
Californian sea lions are used in military applications by the U.S. Navy, including detecting naval mines and enemy divers. In the Persian Gulf, the animals are trained to swim behind divers approaching a U.S. naval ship and attach a clamp with a rope to the enemy diver's leg. Navy officials say the sea lions can do this in seconds, before the enemy even realises what has happened.
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Providing world-class care
With the right training, individual animals can be conditioned to cooperate. Even for the dreaded visit from the doctor. Pedro our sea lion is more than happy to hold still for an X-ray – if fish rewards await. Training Pedro to participate willingly in vet check-ups does away with the need for sedation or restraint, which helps reduce stress for both animals and staff involved. 📹: Ravan Tan, Assistant Manager (Animal Presentation)