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The Galápagos Sea Lions (Zalophus wollebaeki), North Seymour Island, the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. | by ER's Eyes - Our planet is beautiful.
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The Galápagos Sea Lions (Zalophus wollebaeki), North Seymour Island, the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.

Iguana and sea lion are still playing tag.

 

 

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Breeding takes place from May through January. Because of this prolonged breeding season and the extensive care required by the pups from their mother, there are dependent pups in the colonies year round. Each cow in the harem has a single pup born a year after conception. After about a week of continuous attention from birth, the female returns to the ocean and begins to forage, and just a week after that, the pup will follow her and begin to develop its swimming skills. When the pup is two to three weeks old, the cow will mate again. The mothers will take the young pups with them into the water while nursing until around the 11th month, when the pups are weaned from their mother's milk and become dependent on their own hunting skill.

 

The lasting interaction of mother–offspring pairs is a central social unit in most mammalian groups, including these sea lions. The cow will nurture a pup for up to three years. In that time, the cow and the pup will recognize each other's bark from the rest of the colony. Within the colony, sea lion pups live together in a rookery. Pups can be seen together napping, playing, and feeding. It is not uncommon to see one cow 'baby-sitting' a group of pups while the other cows go off to feed.

 

Many mammals synchronize their pregnancies to ensure a greater infant survival rate, but not Z. wollebaeki. Plausible reasons for this low synchrony could be the absence of strong photoperiodic change throughout the year, which is thought to regulate embryonic diapause, and/or adaptation to an environment with variable productivity and prey availability.

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Taken on December 22, 2019