Year of 2017

Galápagos sea lion pups on Santiago Island, Ecuador

Soon these Galápagos sea lion pups will give up the play-fighting and head off into the Pacific to hunt sardines. Playing helps them develop the muscles, intelligence, and behavioral skills that will keep them alive when mom sends them away to forage for themselves. Though the name suggests they’re found only on the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, there is a smaller population on nearby Isla de la Plata—also part of Ecuador, but not part of the Galápagos.

The Galápagos sea lion is a species of sea lion that exclusively breeds on the Galápagos Islands and – in smaller numbers – on Isla de la Plata. Being fairly social, and one of the most numerous species in the Galápagos archipelago, they are often spotted sun-bathing on sandy shores or rock groups or gliding gracefully through the surf. Their loud bark, playful nature, and graceful agility in water make them the “welcoming party” of the islands.They are the smallest sea lions.
Scientific name: Zalophus wollebaeki
Biological classification: Species
Belongs to: Zalophus
Lobo marino
Close-up of a Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki) in Punta Pitt, San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.