Galapagos Sea Lion

The Galapagos Sea Lion is a very curious sea animal. Its scientific name is Zalophus californianus wollebaeki.

It is one of the most numerous marine mammals in the Galapagos Islands there are more than 50,000 individuals.


Sea lions are well adapted to its semi-aquatic lifestyle. They are always playing with each other or with surrounding animals like penguins, marine iguanas or Galapagos Crabs

Sea lions in Galapagos are commonly seen in the Islands where there are sandy beaches and rocky shores.

Sea Lion in Galapagos

galapagos sea lion

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Galapagos Sea Lions are smaller than the Californian sea lions. Male sea lions in Galapagos can weight up to 250 kg. and measure up to 2.4 mt. Female sea lions can measure up to 1.8 mt and weight up to 90 kg.

Males have a bump on the forehead, have a thick an strong neck and their color is brown, while female's color is lighter tan. Their average lifespan is of 20 years.

They are playful animals on land and in the sea so they are known to be very sociable animals. Sea lions live in groups and sleep sometimes on top of each other.

They have a variety of vocalizations which includes growling, barking, and honking.

Their food is mainly fish which includes salmon, herring, anchovies, herring and octopus. Sea lions eat up to 35 pounds of fish per day and they usually make long trips to find it. Their swimming speed is of around 30 km per hour.

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The Galapagos sea lion has a streamlined body with strong and long flippers to help him swim. They have a good control of their back fins which also give them more agility.

Among its characteristics are their excellent eyesight and a well developed sense of smell.

Galapagos sea lions form colonies or groups at their respective territory. They are referred as harems and each group has a dominant male sea lion.

Female sea lions are free to go where they please from one territory to another. The male's harem is a piece of land which they defend bravely.

Males frequently bark in land and underwater to indicate his territorial ownership. Fights are frequent on sea lions' territories.

Males will start biting and pushing each other and as a result of these fights many scares are very common between sea lions.

Sea lions cannot feed while defending their territory, they can remain in that place somewhere between a couple of days to up to 3 months.

When they get tired and weak they will be removed by a stronger sea lion.

Nine months after mating the female Galapagos sea lion gives birth to a single pup.

They give birth on land, amongst a group that may contain up to 900 sea lions. Pups measure around 75 cm at birth and they can swim.

Their color at birth is dark brown and almost black but this color will eventually lighten as they grow.

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Pups begin to eat fish after 2 months and stay with their mothers for at least a year. Then they gradually start to find their own independence.

The Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island is always monitoring and taking care of the population and behavior of sea lions.

Its Main Objectives Are:

  • To determine the current size, structure, and distribution of the Galapagos sea lion and fur seal in the Islands.
  • To provide information on location of individual sea lions and fur seals entangled or hooked.
  • To develop simple rescue methods for sea lions or fur seals in trouble.

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