The California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) is a coastal eared seal native to western North America. It is one of five species of sea lion. Its natural habitat ranges from southeast Alaska to central Mexico, including the Gulf of California. Sea lions are sexually dimorphic - males are larger than females, and have a thicker neck and protruding crest. They mainly haul-out on sandy or rocky beaches, but they also frequent manmade environments such as marinas and wharves. Sea lions feed on a number of species of fish and squid, and are preyed on by killer whales and white sharks.
California sea lions have a polygynous breeding pattern. From May to August, males establish territories and try to attract females to mate with. Females are free to move in between territories, and are not coerced by males. Mothers nurse their pups in between foraging trips. Sea lions communicate with numerous vocalizations, notably with barks and mother-pup contact calls. Outside of their breeding season, sea lions spend much of their time at sea, but they come to shore to molt.
Sea lions are particularly intelligent and can be trained to perform various tasks. Because of this, California sea lions are commonly found in public displays in zoos, circuses and oceanariums, where they are known as the classic "seals," and are trained by the US Navy for certain military operations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as Least Concern due to its abundance. Sea lions have been considered threats to endangered salmon at Bonneville Dam, where officials have killed several individual offenders.
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... The IUCN lists the California sea lion as Least Concern due to "its large and increasing population size." The estimated population is 238,000–241,000 for the US or ... Off the US coast, sea lions are so numerous that they are close to carrying capacity, while the Gulf of California population declined by 20% by 2008 ... Sea lions may be killed when in conflict with fishermen, by poaching, and by entanglements in man-made garbage ...
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