PUNTA SUAREZ - SEA LIONS AND MORE SEA LIONS AND MORE...
Espanola Travel Blog› entry 8 of 22 › view all entries
(I WANT TO BE REINCARNATED AS A SEA LION, SLEEP, EAT, PLAY, SLEEP, EAT AND PLAY ALL DAY) :P :D :)
That was one of my favorite days. We were very close to the sea lions. Today was a SEA LION DAY!!!!! The ALPHA male was didn't mind we were about 10 feet from me and his harem. However, Freddy, the natualist was talking to too loud and the ALPHA MALE has hollering between Freddy's SPIEL (speech). We had a wonderful hiking behind the island. Plenty of sea lion action :)
The Galápagos Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki) is a species of mammal in the Otariidae family endemic to Ecuador.
Sia is slightly smaller than their Californian relatives, Galápagos Sea Lions range from 150 to 250 cm in length and weigh between 50 to 400 kg, with the males averaging larger than females. Adult males also tend to have a thicker, more robust neck, chest, and shoulders in comparison to their slender abdomen. Females are somewhat opposite males with a longer, more slender neck and thick torso. Once sexually mature, a male’s sagittal crest enlarges, forming a small, characteristic bump-like projection on their forehead.
Both male and female sea lions have a pointy, whiskered nose and somewhat long, narrow muzzle. The young pups are almost dog-like in profile. Another characteristic that defines the sea lion are their external ear-like pinnae flaps which distinguish them from their close relative in which they are often confused with, the seal. The fore-flippers have a short fur extending from the wrist to the middle of the dorsal fin surface, but other than that, the flippers are covered in black, leathery skin. Curving posterioraly, the first digit of the flipper is the largest, giving it a swept-back look.
When wet, sea lions are a shade of dark brown, but once dry, their color varies greatly. The females tend to be a lighter shade than the males and the pups a chestnut brown. Born with a longer, brownish-black lanugo, a pups coat gradually fades to brown within the first five months of life. At this time, they undergo their first molt resulting in their adult coat.
The Galápagos Sea Lions can be found on each of the different islands of the archipelago. They have also colonized just offshore the mainland Ecuador at Isla de la Plata, and can be spotted from the Ecuadorian coast north to Isla Gorgona in Colombia. Records have also been made of sightings on Isla del Coco which is about 500 km southwest of Costa Rica.
Feeding mostly on sardines, Galápagos Sea Lions sometimes travel ten to fifteen kilometers from the coast over the span of days to hunt for their prey. This is when they come into contact with their biggest predators: sharks and killer whales.
Galápagos Sea Lions are especially vulnerable to human activity. Their inquisitive and social nature makes them more likely to approach areas inhabited by humans, and thus come into contact with human waste, fishing nets, and hooks. They occupy many different shoreline types from steep, rocky cliff sides to low-lying sandy beaches. To avoid overheating during the day, sea lions will take refuge from the sun under vegetation, rocks, and cliffs, and wade into tidal pools.
Not only are sea lions social, they are also quite vocal.
On land, sea lions form colonies at their hauling-out areas. Adult males known as Bulls are the head of the Colony, growing up to 7 ft (2 m) long and weighing up to 800 lbs (363 kg). As males grow larger, they fight to win dominance of a harem of between 5 and 25 cows and the surrounding territory. Swimming from border to border of his colony, the dominant bull jealously defends his coastline against all other adult males. While patrolling his area, he frequently rears his head out of the water and barks, as an indication of his territorial ownership.
The average dominant bull holds his territory for only a few months, until he is challenged by another male. On land, these fights start by stretching out the neck and barking in attempt to test each other’s bravery. If this isn’t enough to scare the opponent off, they begin pushing each other and biting around the neck area. If males weren’t equipped with a thick, muscular neck, their vital organs would be easily damaged during these fights. Blood, is often drawn, however, and many male sea lions have battle scars due to these territorial competitions. Losers are dramatically chased far from their territory by the new dominant bull with much splashing.
Because there is only one male in each harem, there is always a surplus of “bachelor” male sea lions.
Breeding takes place from May all the way through to January. Because of this prolonged breeding season and the extensive care required by the pups from their mother, there are dependent pups in the colonies year round. Each cow in the harem has a single pup born a year after conception. After about a week of continuous attention from birth, the female returns to the ocean and begins to forage, and just a week after that, the pup will follow her and begin to develop its swimming skills.
The Pups have a strong bond with their mother. The cow will nurture a pup for up to three years. In that time the cow and the pup will recognize each other's bark from the rest of the Colony. Within the colony sea lion pups live together in a rookery. Pups can be seen together napping, playing, and feeding. It is not uncommon to see one cow 'baby-sitting' a group of pups while the other cows go off to feed.
The majority of the Galápagos Sea Lion population is protected, as the islands are a part of the Ecuadorian National Park surrounded by a marine resources reserve.
The Nazca Booby, Sula granti, is a booby which is found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, namely on the Galápagos Islands where it can be seen by eco-tourists, and on Clipperton Island. The Revillagigedo Islands off Baja California which possibly constitute its northeasternmost limit of its breeding range
It was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the Masked Booby but the Nazca Booby is now recognized as a separate species.
Nazca boobies are known for practicing habitual siblicide. They lay two eggs, several days apart. If both eggs hatch, the elder chick will push its sibling out of the nest area, leaving it to die of thirst or cold. The parent booby will not intervene and the younger chick will inevitably die. It is believed that two eggs are laid so that one remains an insurance in case the other gets destroyed or eaten e.g. by gulls, or the chick dies soon after hatching.
This is the largest of the three booby species found in the Galapagos growing to around 30 to 35 inches (76 to 89 cm) in length with a wingspan of 5 to 6 ft (1.
The Nazca booby feeds in a very similar way to the other two species, though they are all segregated in their fishing grounds. Only the Blue Footed is regularly seen fishing as it does so inshore, the Nazca Booby, fishes further offshore and as mentioned in the previous page, the Red Footed fishes the furthest out of all of them.
Possibly the most elegant of the boobies on the Galapagos, not surprisingly, the courtship ritual of the Nazca boobies is less elaborate than the Blue Footed as it has no equivalent bizarrely colored appendages to wave around. I have to say though that I have to like the Blue Footed the most, what it lacks in elegance, it makes up for in unlikely and admirable colouration.
Lava lizards (Tropidurus) live on most of the main islands of the Galapagos archipelago, though they differ somewhat in size, color and behavior from island to island. Seven subspecies have been identified, all of which are endemic to the Galapagos.
They are small creatures, growing to no more than a foot in length, and inhabit rocky areas of the islands.
There they feed on beetles, spiders, ants, snails and other insects.
The male Lava Lizard may have two, three or more mates in a harem, and they can be very aggressive in defending their territory.
These guys will stand high on all fours, usually sideways to their opponent to maximize their apparent size, extend the scales on their backs, and bob up and down.
The display is usually seen between two males. One scientist has determined that specific aggressive postures are specific to each island on which they occur.
Lava lizards live up to 10 years, a relatively long time for such little beasts. They are omnivores, but dine mostly on insects.