Scientific name: Zalophus californianus. Zalophus (Za – in Greek intensive, Lophus – crest, referring to the Sagittal Crest of males, distinguishing the genus). Californianus (specifying their geographic breeding areas). Family – Otariidae (Eared Seals).
The California Sea Lion is an air breathing, warm blooded, milk sucking marine mammal that, surprisingly, descended from the family of the bears. As part of the Pinnipeds clade, they are very similar to seals, but have some distinctive features. They are a part of the Eared Seals family, along with Fur seals and other sea lion species, as they have external ear flaps. They also have longer flippers, which allows them to ‘walk’ on land, though to me, it looks more like they are breakdancing. Another interesting ‘move’ the sea lions can do is to bend their necks all the way to their hind-flippers, thanks to their extra flexible spine. This gives them the ability to turn abruptly when swimming in the water, all while maintaining hydrodynamics. Female California Sea Lions are light-chocolate brown in color, have a flat head, can grow up to 2 meters/6 feet and weigh up to 110 kg/250 lbs. Males are dark brown to black and have a big hump on their forehead called the Sagittal Crest. This protruding hump makes it easy to differentiate between males and females along with their size. Males can grow up to 2.5 meters/7 feet and weigh 520 kg/1150 lbs or more. That’s almost 5 times more then females!