Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)
Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Zalophus wollebaeki is found only around the Galapagos Archipelago. It doesn’t go far out to sea, and instead remains within around 16 kilometres of the coast. It hunts in shallow waters for octopus, fish, and crustaceans. Females gather on the shore in colonies of around 30 individuals, along with a few males who compete for access to the females. Gestation lasts 11 months, although the implantation of the fertilised egg is probably delayed for the female to wean her current pup.
Although populations have recovered from hunting during the 19th century, Z. wollebaeki is now under threat from conflicts with humans. They are sometimes caught in fishing nets, especially juveniles, because of their curious nature. The El Niño event of 1997-98 severely affected this species, and many migrated away. A virus called seal lion pox is also responsible for a number of deaths.
Threats affecting Z. wollebaeki are monitored by The Charles Darwin Research Centre, and the Galapagos Marine Reserve has helped to protect this species since 1998.
Photo: David Paul on flickr.