Steller Sea Lions
Steller sea lions are the largest of the Otariidae family (the group that includes sea lions and fur seals). Males can reach sizes of 11 feet in length and 2,400 pounds while females are smaller at 9.5 feet in length and 700 pounds.
Steller sea lions are well known for their noticeably large head and broad chest. Coloration of adults ranges from light brown to blond with a slightly darker bottom half, while pups are born dark brown or black.
They range from southern California, northward along the coast of North America, across the Aleutian Islands, and southward to Japan.
Spotted seals are marine mammals belonging to the order Pinnipedia, in the family Phocidae, which includes all “true seals” such as harbor seals and other non-eared species. Their scientific name is Phoca largha, which stems from the Greek word for seal, “phoce,” and the Siberian name for this seal, “larga.” Spotted seals are often referred to as ice seals, which is a term that refers to any seal that spends the majority of their life in icy environments. Other ice seals can include hooded seals, ringed seals, and leopard seals.
Spotted seals are found in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, specifically in the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan, and up into the Chukchi Sea. They generally haul out on ice floes for breeding and molting, but will live in the open ocean during summer months. In areas near Alaska where the spotted seal and harbor seal share habitats, it is often difficult to tell the two species apart. However, spotted seals can be identified by their dark irregular spotted markings against a lighter gray or silver fur. They also have a narrower snout, much like a dog’s.
There is not a significant difference in appearance between male and female spotted seals. Mature animals of both sexes will range between 4.5 to 7 feet in length and will weigh between 180-240 pounds. During breeding season, spotted seals will form “family units” consisting of a male, female, and the newborn pup. Pups will feed primarily on krill and small crustaceans and adults will eat a variety of fish species including herring, capelin, and Arctic cod.
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