Sunday, August 28, 2016

Steller Sea Lion - Chiswell Islands, Alaska

The Steller sea lion is also known as the northern sea lion. The only seals larger than them are the walrus and the two species of elephant seal. Pups are born black and stay dark for several months. We saw quite a few pups with numbers that had been emblazoned on their sides by scientists. At birth they are quite hefty, weighing about 50 pounds. Adult females are 7.5 to 9.5 feet long and weigh 530 to 770 pounds. Adult males are even larger, from 9.3 to 10.7 feet long and weighing 990 to 2,470 pounds. Males are distinguished by broader, higher foreheads, flatter snouts, and darker hair around their necks giving them a maned appearance. 
The males really stand out with their large necks and upper body. They also have lots of open wounds, indications that they have been involved in territorial battles for females.
A good look at the mane-like appearance on a male.
This big guy is surrounded by females and pups. 
I love the pup in the middle resting on mama's body. Domestic tranquility. 
A nice spot to catch some sun and some zzzs. 
They are found in the western Pacific from the Okhotsk Sea of Russia, north to the Gulf of Alaska, then south in the eastern Pacific to central California. 
Another male with body wounds. 
This big guy has woken from his slumber and is making a racket. 
If you look closely at the fins on this seal scratching its neck you'll see claws sticking out. 
On our eight hour boat tour in Kenai Fjords National Park, out of Seward, Alaska, we visited a rookery in the Chiswell Islands, out in the Gulf of Alaska. They were found high up on very steep rock jutting precipitously out of the water.
The Stellar sea lions line the rocks near the ocean.
I like the layers of ocean, rock and then vegetation.
Getting out of the water onto the steep rock looks treacherous.
How they get up this rock is a mystery to me.
Despite rough seas and a rolling boat, we watched offshore for awhile. They made quite a racket. Judy missed them as she was inside the boat dealing with seasickness issues.

One more view with a couple of bulls yodeling. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got such great pictures. Nice to know what I missed. Talk about a harem! Those big male seals really rule, don't they?