Sea lions living in temperate and tropical climates inhabit a variety of substrates on islands and along the mainland. These include cobblestone and sandy beaches, sloping rock outcroppings and rock platforms, emergent offshore tidal rocks, rocky shorelines with large boulders and rubble, sandbars and mudflats, sheltered crevices and sea-caves, and tide pools. Sea lions can also be found on man-made structures like piers, jetties, offshore buoys and oil platforms.
Sea Lions breed on sandy beaches and rocky areas on remote islands. These habitats range from temperate to tropical regions.
Male and female sea lions arrive at onshore breeding sites to mate and give birth from May to August, though the majority of births occur in June. Males are most territorial in June and July. Sea lions tend to return to the same breeding sites year after year.
Males are polygamous and establish breeding territories that may include up to 14 females. Males are known to defend their territories with aggressive physical displays and vocalization that sounds like a dog barking.
Gestation Sea lions
Total gestation lasts 11 to 11.5 months. Sea lions delay implantation: when the fertilized egg divides into a hollow ball of cells one layer thick (blastocyst) it stops growing and floats freely in the uterus for about three months. The blastocyst then implants in the uterine wall and continues to develop. Delayed implantation assures that the pup will be born when environmental conditions are optimal for its survival.
Birth Sea lions
Pregnant females give birth to a single pup a few days after coming ashore throughout May and June. As with other pinniped species, female sea lions usually give birth to one pup per year. The greatest numbers of pups are born the first week of June, generally on land in rocky areas.
Sixty-three percent of pups are born head-first, but pups have also been born successfully tail-first and in other positions. The average length of labor, delivery and then passage of the placenta is 91 minutes. The umbilical cord breaks during delivery.
Females come into estrus, or heat, about two weeks after giving birth and can again become pregnant. Mating usually occurs 15-30 days after giving birth. Females signal they are receptive by lying prone on the ground and rubbing on the male. Courtship usually lasts a few minutes, but can last an hour or longer. The female terminates mating by biting the neck of the male and pulling free. Females only engage in one mating session. Mating can occur on land or in shallow or deep water, but 60 percent of mating occurs in the water.
Sea lion pups nurse from their mothers 15 to 30 minutes after birth. Females stay at the rookery and nurse their pups for the first eight days after the pup is born, then, they go out to sea to forage for food.
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