California Sea Lions
The California sea lion, is a species of pinniped that is particularly attractive to nature lovers and tourists for its friendly underwater personality. The pinnipeds, in addition to sea lions, include seals and walruses. The 2 main differences between seals and sea lions is that sea lions have a small earflap next to their ear, which seals do not have; and that sea lions can walk on land with all 4 limbs, while seals move on land similar to caterpillars.
California sea lions feed on smaller pelagic fish, such as sardines, anchovies, and mackerels. They also eat other fish, and even cephalopods, to a lesser extent. You can find them in the Pacific, from the coast of Alaska to southern Mexico, although their reproductive habitat is smaller. There are breeding colonies off the coast of California (USA) and on both sides of the Baja California peninsula (Mexico). Within the Gulf of California there are 13 breeding colonies. These colonies are mostly islands, where you can find sea lions all year round , although in most of them the males are there only for the summer, taking care of their reproductive territories. The females, on the other hand, take care of their young for a year, or even more. The females go out to look for food for one or two days, and then they return to nurse their young, which cannot swim for the first few months of their life. Each summer, when the males arrive at the colonies, the females give birth to last year's young, and become pregnant with the next pup. The females can live up to 25 years, but the males, spending more time in the open sea, in migrations, and in territorial fights, have a shorter lifespan, around 15 years.
Here in the Bay of La Paz we have two colonies, one breeding and one just for resting. The reproductive one is called Los Islotes, and it is the only one in the gulf that has a growing population of sea lions. San Rafaelito is a much smaller resting colony, usually with only males and juveniles. Both sites are excellent spots for diving and snorkeling, where in addition to the hilarious experience of swimming with sea lions, you can admire the rocky reef that characterizes this region. Juvenile sea lions are very curious and playful with humans in the water, making it an experience that you cannot miss in life. To swim with sea lions during your stay in La Paz, we recommend you come before or after the summer, since swimming with them is not allowed in summer because they are in their reproductive season and the males are territorial. In addition, after the summer you will find the most comfortable temperatures for swimming, and the best visibility.
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