Georgia Aquarium would like to announce a new initiative as part of the 4R (Rehabilitation, Responsibility, Rescue and Research) program. "Nav" and "Diego," two unrelated male California sea lions (scientific name Zalophus californianus), were born in 2004 off the California coast. The pups, only a few months old, were found stranded, severely underweight and unable to fend for themselves. As a result the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, rescued them, nursed them back to health and released them back to their natural environment. Several weeks later, the pups were again found stranded and severely malnourished. The Marine Mammal Center rescued and released them a second time. After a third rescue by the Marine Mammal Center, the pups were nursed back to health, with the knowledge they would not survive if released due to their lack of hunting and survival skills. Because the Georgia Aquarium was able to provide housing for the animals, they were saved from being euthanized and transported from California to Georgia, where they currently reside with six other sea lions in the Coldwater Quest gallery.
Meet one of our Sea Lion’s Biologists
Trish Dove, Senior Biologist, is the primary trainer working with "Nav" and "Diego". She started working at Georgia Aquarium just after opening. Prior to moving to Georgia, Trish worked at the New York Aquarium for 7½ years. Sea Lions were a large part of her responsibility as a keeper and trainer. She really enjoys working with sea lions and describes them as "high energy" and is excited about how quickly they learn. Trish says, "I am excited to be a part of developing the sea lion program here in Georgia and especially look forward to the challenge of working with "green" animals such as "Nav" and "Diego". One of the highlights of my day is teaching them and watching the light bulb go on with each step in the learning process. This training engages the animals and will only increase the level of care that we are able to give them. Training is important, but can also be fun and it's the biggest reason that I love my job."
Thank you! Through your contributions to the 4R program, we were able to fund the rescue of Nav and Diego. Future rescues, continued care and world class medical attention will be made possible by contributions to this program. Click here to learn more about our 4R program’s great benefits.
In addition to the new sea lions, the program still supports ongoing efforts with the Aquarium’s male beluga whale, Nico. Click here for an update of his current health and rehabilitation status.
About California Sea Lions
California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) are known for their intelligence, playfulness and noisy barking. They are found from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico. Their color ranges from a uniform chocolate brown in males to a lighter, golden brown in females. At birth, the pup weighs 13–20 pounds and is nearly three feet in length. The pup is born dark brown to black and fades to lighter colors as it gets older. Males may reach 1,000 pounds but average about 850 pounds (390 kg) and seven feet (2.1 m) in length. Females grow to 220 pounds (110 kg) and often reach six feet (1.8 m) in length. Sea lions have visible ears, while seals by contrast do not have external ears. California sea lions are opportunistic feeders whose diet includes squid, octopus, herring, rockfish, mackerel and small sharks. In turn, Orcas (killer whales) and great white sharks prey upon sea lions. The sea lion population is growing steadily, and California sea lions can be seen in many coastal spots. The current population is approximately 200,000. They are a very social animal and groups often rest closely packed together at favored hangout sites on land or float together on the ocean's surface in "rafts." The California sea lion is well protected in most areas. In Mexico, a few California sea lions are trapped each year, while in the United States they are fully protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.