Maned seal

Seals - maned seals (Otaria flavescens) belong to the ear seals and are also called South American sea lions. Their range extends along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America from southern Brazil, through Argentina and Chile to southern Peru and the Falkland Islands.

As with all eared seals, the bulls of maned seals grow significantly larger than the females. Males reach weights of up to 350 kg and over 2.5 m while females only grow to about 150 kg. The bulls have a distinctive, usually lighter colored mane.

Maned seals live together in their colonies in so-called harem associations. During the mating season in the Australian summer (December-February), bulls gather up to ten females around them and defend their harm against competing bulls.

Males and females differ not only in weight and body size, but also in their hunting behavior. In general, South American sea lions feed primarily on benthic fish. While females mostly hunt in areas close to shore, males dive much deeper and farther from shore for fish. The seals' tactile hairs - the so-called vibrissae - are able to detect the slightest water turbulence. This enables maned seals to find their prey even in the dark or in murky waters.

Maned seals were intensively hunted, especially at the beginning of the 19th century, which caused the world population to decline drastically. In the meantime, they are protected everywhere and the population has recovered and the maned seal is classified as not endangered by the IUCN.

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