Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Pinnipednesday - Neophoca cinerea Edition

It's gotten hot enough where I live that I have to spend a couple of hours after work just trying not to melt into a puddle. And it's only going to get hotter. The price I pay for mild winters.

The Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) is the only species in the genus Neophoca, and can be found along the southwestern coastlines of Australia. They are among the most endangered pinnipeds in the world, with only 10,000 to 12,000 animals in the remaining population. They were hunted almost to extinction for their hides and oil in 18th and 19th centuries - at the time their range extended to Bass Island.


Adult male Australian Sea Lions are larger than adult females, and aside from the size difference they are easily distinguished by different coat colors. Males are mostly dark brown with a blond "mane" around their head and shoulders. The coats of the females are lighter in color, which range from blond to tan to silver-gray. Males can grow up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) in body length and weigh 660 pounds (300 kg). Females grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in body length, and only reach weights of up to 230 pounds (104 kg).

It's likely that Australian Sea Lions feed on crustaceans, cephalopods and fish, though little is known about their specific diet. It's possible that they hunt and eat penguins as well. Males will typically venture further from shore and dive to greater depths than females. One male was observed to dive to a depth of 800 feet (245 meters). Great White Sharks have been known to prey on Australian Sea Lions, and they can drown when entangled in crayfish pots and shark nets.


Breeding cycles between colonies of Australian Sea Lions are not synchronized, which is unusual for pinnipeds. Bulls do not have established territories and are constantly fighting with other males for the right to breed with groups of females during the breeding season. The gestation period of female Australian Sea Lions is almost eighteen months, after which she will give birth to a single pup. Australian Sea Lions practice alloparenting, which means that orphaned pups will be cared for/adopted by others. Pup mortality is as high as 40%, because dominant males have been known to kill pups, and when the males keep their females in such small groups, the females can become aggressive as well.


It's believed that the feces of Australian Sea Lions provide valuable nutrients to the local ecosystem. The bacteria found in the feces is very efficient in breaking down the waste into forms that are easily absorbed by coastal ecosystems. The Australian government is currently running a recovery program to help sustain and hopefully increase the overal population of Australian Sea Lions.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter