Sea Lion Feeding
What do Sea Lions Eat?
Sea Lions are carnivorous which means that they love to consume meat. The main source of food for Sea Lions is fish and a very large amount of it! There are several types of fish that they will eat including herring, mackerel, pompano, salmon, and capelin. What they will have access to depends on where they live.
They also enjoy consuming squid that is often found in the water. They are able to survive well in the water because they aren’t really picky about what they consume as long as it is plentiful and it contains meat. They can spend many hours a day looking for food though. The larger a Sea Lion is the more food it is going to consume on a daily basis.
Other types of food sources for Sea Lions include crabs and clams. What a Sea Lion will consume often depends on the time of year and how plentiful the food sources happen to be. Since they do consume large amounts of fish, it can pose a threat to commercial fishermen. If the fishermen are using advanced devices to get the fish then the Sea Lions have no choice but to turn to these other types of food sources in order to survive.
As long as there is a sufficient amount of food to be found, Sea Lions will generally hunt close to the shore. However, they will move as they need to in order to find enough food to survive on. When they move into water that is further from the shore though they increase the chance of becoming a meal for Killer Sharks and Whales though.
Should their various food sources become almost non existent, some of the species of seals will start to consume the young pups that are in the area. This is a natural instinct that researchers believe is in place to help reduce the population when there isn’t enough food for all of them to live on.
They are excellent divers thanks to the great design of their bodies. They have been recorded diving to depths of approximately 600 feet. They do have to return to the surface often for air though. Yet they are able to do this very rapidly and then dive again over and over.
When a Sea Lion finds food to eat, it will swallow it without chewing it up. Sea Lions do have some sharp teeth though. They use them to break of large portions of prey that is too large for them to swallow. Then they simply will swallow chunks of it until it is all gone. They will also use their back teeth to break the shells on clams so that they can consume what is inside.
Many times it appears that a Sea Lion is playing with its food before it consumes it. This is because they will flip it around and around before they let it slide down. They aren’t really playing with it though. Instead they are turning it into the right position for easier digestion. They want fish and squid to go down head first so they will turn it until it is able to do so.
There is one aspect that researchers are very puzzled by. They have found a variety of stones in the stomachs of dead sea lions in the wild. They can range from very small pebbles to fairly large sized rocks. It isn’t fully understood if they accidentally consume them while in the water feeding. Some think they may be curious about the rocks and often swallow them on land. This remains a mystery though for them to continue looking into.