Visiting Afognak Island during August and September is not only great for freshwater fishing (with our coho/”silver” salmon) and wildlife viewing, but it’s also a great time to see some of our most entertaining mammals, the sea lion. Sea lions can be seen after a short half hour boat trip from the lodge, both on their island and in the water. These magnificent creatures are known to come quite close to our boats, and can be seen in larger numbers due to the Coho/”Silver” salmon run.
Our coastal habitat, characterized by the remote islands, make perfect breeding grounds for sea lions, who return each year in May to breed their pups. Stellar sea lions are among the most common species, and they are the largest member of the family Otariidae, or eared seals. These animals are only smaller than the walrus and elephant seals, and look different from other breeds of seals due to their visible ear flaps.
Description, Diet & More
Stellar sea lion pups are born black, but become a more plain brownish-yellow color as they develop. Both genders grow rapidly until they’re about five years old, and then the female’s growth tapers off. On average, females weigh anywhere between 530-700 pounds, while males weigh closer to 1,200 pounds at full size. Around May or June, the male sea lions will aggregate at “rookeries,” usually on remote and isolated islands, to await the arrival of the females. Then, the females give birth to their new pups (conceived about 11 ½ months beforehand) and mate again in June or July.
These mammals eat a wide variety of food, including mostly fish and cephalopods. They eat herring, pollock, salmon and cod, as well as squid, shrimp and other fish. Stellar sea lions typically feed in large groups, and they feed at night, between 9 PM and 6 AM. During the mating season, males won’t eat for over a month, in order to protect the rookeries.
Unfortunately, stellar sea lions have seen some population decline in recent years, which could be occurring for a number of reasons. For example, they can get tangled in fishing gear and packing straps left by boats. Recent efforts have been made to understand this decline, with hopes of understanding why the population is declining.
Book A Stay At Afognak Lodge Today!
Sea lions are just some of the magnificent animals you can find in Kodiak, Alaska, lodging at Afognak Wilderness Lodge. If you’re ready for an incredible experience, contact us today to learn more about our rates. We’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have. We look forward to hearing from you soon!