Galápagos sea lions (endemic to the Galápagos) are non-migratory and can be spotted in the Islands yearlong, but their pupping and breeding season takes place from May through February! If you visit Galápagos this month it is likely that you’ll encounter them in their mating period.
While mating mostly occurs underwater, these sociable mammals are often sunbathing on the shore. You can also spot sea lions gracefully swimming through the waves. Some tourists have even observed the mating process while scuba diving near the beach!
Interesting Fact: Sea lions are very active during the day and are normally found in shallow waters hunting on fish, octopus and crustaceans. However they are also capable of deep diving. Sea lions can dive up to 200 meters for 20 minutes or more!
Let’s talk about pups
After a gestation period of about 11 months, females give birth to one pup. For a week after they are born pups receive continuous care, where a special bond is created: pups and their mothers develop a unique call. After that first week, females leave for the sea to feed themselves and return at night to care for their offspring. When pups are 1.5-2 weeks old they make their way to the water where they start learning how to swim. With such a long gestation and breeding period, you will come across pups all year round!
Who is who
Because of their significant sexual dimorphism, you will easily identify males from females. Males grow up to 2 meters and can weigh up to 4 times more than females! Another difference lies in the color of their fur. While all sea lions have grey or brown fur; females generally have lighter tones and pups are chestnut brown.
Males are the heads of their colonies, and the head male, known as “the bull” is very territorial. The bull aggressively defends its territory from other males; the larger the land they dominate, the more females are available for them to mate with. You will find packs of up to 30 females laying down in sandy beaches or rocky areas with shade and tidal pools in order to remain fresh under the heat.
Sea lions are social animals that are not afraid of humans; they are normally surrounded by their presence near the ocean shore. Their playful nature will make them one of your favorites in the archipelago!
Have you seen the Galápagos sea lion yet?