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South American sea lion



Common names: 

English: South American sea lion

Spanish: Lobo marino Sudamericano

German: Südamerikanischer Seelöw


Scientific name: 

Otaria byronia



South American sea lions are stocky otariids

that are strongly sexually dimorphic.

Length: 2.0 - 2.2 m (female) / 2.6 - 2.8 m (male)

Weight: 140 - 150 kg (female) / 300 - 350 kg (male) 


Habitat and distribution:

South American Sea Lions are widely-distributed and ranges on coast of southern South America from northern Peru, south to Cape Horn, and north up the east coast of the continent to Uruguay and southern Brazil. This is essentially a coastal species, wich is found in waters over the continental shelf and slope. This species is considered a marine coastal species, but sometimes ventures into fresh water and can be found around tidewater glaciers and up rivers.  



Sea lions were taken in Chile decades ago for use as bait in crab fisheries, like others marine mammals. 

A longstanding competition for fish has existed in Chile and Argentina between this species and fisheries. South American sea lions, prey on fish caught in their fishing gear, often causing damage. Intensive trawl fishing for several species in the coastal waters of the southwestern South Atlantic has been implicated in a severe decline of sea lions in the Falkland-Malvinas Islands, where the population has fallen from 30,000 in the 1960s to approximately 3,000 in the 1990s.

The species is poached in fishing farming operations, but anti-predator nets result in permanent reductions in sea lion attacks.


Suggested references:

-Campagna, C. 2014. Otaria bryonia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>.

-Osman, L., Hucke-Gaete, R., Hückstädt, L., Sepúlveda, M. and Pavés, H. 2007. Interacción operacional entre otáridos, pesquerías y salmonicultura en ecosistemas Marinos de Chile: un caso que necesita evaluación. 28 al 29 de Noviembre de 2006, Bogota, Colombia.

-Sepulveda, M., Perez, M. J., Sielfeld, W., Oliva, D., Duran, L. R., Rodriguez, L., Araos, V. and Buscaglia, M. 2006. Operational interaction between South American sea lions Otaria flavescens and artisanal (small-scale) fishing in Chile: Results from interview surveys and on-board observations. Fisheries Research 83(2-3): 332-340.

-Sepulveda, M. and Oliva, D. 2005. Interactions between South American sea lions Otaria flavescens (Shaw) and salmon farms in southern Chile. Aquaculture Research 36(11): 1062-1068.

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