New Zealand sea lion
An endangered species of sea lion which lives around the coasts of New Zealand and its surrounding islands.
About 20 years.
200cm long (females), 350cm long (males) and weighing up to 230kg (females) or 410kg (males).
Females are covered in short buff to grey fur. Males are darker, with a distinct mane around the head and shoulders. The flippers and muzzle are often darker.
The Auckland Islands and other islands south of New Zealand.
The sea around New Zealand, sandy beaches, and also freshwater creeks and nearby forested areas.
Octopus, fish, crustaceans, mussels and penguins.
Females and their pups are very tolerant of each other, and may forage in groups of up to thirty. They congregate on sandy beaches to haul out and to breed. Males establish a hierarchy for breeding.
Males arrive at the breeding beaches between October and November in order to establish their hierarchy, with pregnant females arriving in December. 6-7 days after giving birth the females come into heat. The mothers nurse their pups for about a year. Sexual maturity is reached around 4 (females) or 5 (males), although males do not normally mate until they are at least 8 years old.
Endangered. There are 3-4,000 left, and their numbers have not increased despite protection.
The earliest known sea lion is 12-13 million years old and is very small. By 8 million years ago, some sea lions showed sexual dimorphism, implying that they were breeding in a similar way to modern species. The modern species all evolved around 3 million years ago.