Eared seals, also known as “walking seals,” are a group of marine mammals that belong to the family Otariidae. They are characterized by their external ear flaps, small front flippers, and thick insulated fur.
They have large hind flippers that are used for propulsion in the water. Size and weight can vary depending on the species, but adult males can grow up to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) and weigh up to 350 kg (770 lbs) and adult females can grow up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) and weigh up to 200 kg (440 lbs).
Eared seals are found in various regions around the world, including the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North and South America, as well as the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. They can be found in areas with rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and estuaries.
Eared seals are opportunistic feeders and their diet can vary depending on the species and location. Some common prey items include fish, squid, and crustaceans. They can dive to depths of up to 150 meters (490 feet) in search of food.
Eared seals are generally sociable animals and they can be seen congregating in large numbers during breeding season. They are known to use vocalizations such as barks and growls to communicate with each other. They are also known to use their hind flippers to help them move on land or ice.
Eared seals include various species of eared seals, such as the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), the South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis) and the Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus) . They all belong to the family Otariidae, order Carnivora and class Mammalia.
The conservation status of eared seal species vary, with some such as the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) being considered “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to past hunting and habitat loss, while others like the Californian sea lion (Zalophus californianus) are considered a “Least Concern” species by the IUCN. However, many eared seal populations are still facing threats from human activities such as pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and climate change.