Sea lions are amazing animals that inhabit almost every beach and rocky shore in the Galapagos Islands. They are entertaining, lovable, intelligent, and seemingly almost doglike in their appearance and their behaviour. They are particularly curious and inquisitive about their surroundings. Playful and fun-loving, they are a big hit with both the tourists and with the residents who live in the Galapagos Island.
Mother sea lions belong to colonies with dozens of females and one large, male bull. They breed and produce young each year, taking very good care of their babies. They leave them on the beach, under the watchful eye of the rest of the sea lions while they go off into the waves in search of eels, octopus, fish and other food. They return with full bellies and collapse on the sand for a rest. It is at this time that the babies will nurse and fill their own bellies with mother's milk. Sea lions will not look after orphaned youngsters and if a mother does not return from hunting, the baby will starve to death. Some will be able to sneak milk from other mothers, but the struggle to survive in this way will be almost impossible.
This adorable little sea lion is playing with another baby whose mother is nearby. They roll in the sand, scratch, waddle and frolic in the safety of the shallow tide pools. But he is hungry and thirsty and he cries out with worry, hoping to hear the call of his mother answering him. He hopes to receive some attention and a drink from his friend's mother, but she will not allow him to get close, despite his pitiful cries. He continues to cry out but his mother will not be back for a little while longer. Soon after this, his mother did return and she was calling to him before she even got out of the water.
Occasionally, mother sea lions will become prey for large sharks. When they do not return, their babies will wander the beach crying with the most heart breaking sound imaginable. Over a few days, they will dehydrate and starve, becoming frail and weak. They will perish without their mothers in almost all cases. Sea lions will also abandon their babies if humans touch them. As tempting as it is to pick one up, it will mean certain death for the youngster.
Fortunately, most baby sea lions who reach this age will grow big and strong. They will form their own colonies and they will thrive on their own beach in one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on earth.