South American sea lion

Scientific name :
Otaria flavescens
Class :
Order :
Family :

The South American sea lion has the most feline features of all sea lions, with striking sexual dimorphism (males can be three times bigger than females). The adult male is covered in dark to light brown fur, with a very thick golden mane. The colouring found in females can also vary from dark to reddish-brown and sometimes grey.


Geographic distribution of the South American sea lion

South American sea lions are found in the coastal regions from southern Brazil to Peru.


Reproduction of the South American sea lion

Their characteristic breeding behaviour is for the males to arrive first on the beaches and fight over territory. During the two-month reproduction period, they remain on the beach and can lose up to 200 kg. The females then show up, having gorged themselves on food ahead of the fasting period that corresponds to the whelping and mating that take place soon after their arrival. They are aggressive towards one another and do not tolerate the presence of other offspring. Indeed, the juveniles quickly form groups known as nurseries and are not reluctant to stray from their mothers.

Did you know?

When pups (the name given to baby sea lions) are born they are unable to swim. Their flippers are too fragile to enable them to haul themselves out of the rough Atlantic waters, but by the age of one month they become excellent swimmers like the adults.
Stony beaches at foot of cliffs.
Weight: male: 300 to 500 kg
female: 180 kg max.
Length: male: 2.30 to 2.55 m.
female: 1.80 m to 2 m.
Crustaceans, molluscs and fish.
Longevity 20 years.
Sexual maturity: males: 5 to 6 years; females: 3 to 4 years.
Young: 1
Gestation: 340 days
Weaned at 12 months max.

Conservation status

stable menacé très menacé

Image name
Sea Lion show Find out more
Image name
Educational Presentation Find out more