South American sea lion. Source:Biopix/Encyclopedia of Life
Kingdom: Anamalia (Animals)
Otaria is a genus of just one species (a “monotypic” genus) within the eared seal family of sixteen species - the South American sea lion. Eared seals include sea lions and fur seals. Together with the families of true seals and Walruses, Eared seals form the group of marine mammals known as pinnipeds.
Eared seals differ from the true seals in having small external earflaps and hind flippers that can be turned to face forwards. Together with strong front flippers, this gives them extra mobility on land and an adult fur seal can move extremely fast across the beach if it has to. They also use their front flippers for swimming, whereas true seals use their hind flippers.
South American sea lions are not presently threatened. They experienced a large population decline during the past 70 years in the Falkland Islands. The reason for this abrupt decline is unknown. Though they are not currently threatened, they are protected throughout most of their range.
For details see South American sea lion.
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