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One of the loudest and smelliest marine mammals that passengers can come across on our tours is the Steller Sea Lion. These sea lions are named after the naturalist, George Wilhelm Steller, who first described the species in 1741. Male Stellers can reach sizes of 11 feet (3.25 m) in length and weight up to 2,500 pounds. This makes them the largest species of sea lion in the world! These hefty fellas are often confused with the other sea lion species we tend to see on our tours, California sea lions. They can be distinguished by their light blonde to reddish brown colour, their size, and their growling & roaring sound.

Stellar sea lions travel between feeding and breeding grounds, with the closest rookery to Victoria being in the Gulf of Alaska. During breeding seasons, males compete to win the rights of breeding with the females. Pups are usually born in mid-May to mid-July. Females will stay with the pups on the breeding grounds while the males head to southern waters to feed. A common location that we see these large sea lions is at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, southwest of Victoria Harbour. Here it is quite frequent to see males that are nursing wounds from losing the competition for breeding rights. Males will slowly start to trickle into our waters throughout the summer and begin to dominate the rocky outcrops from late summer through to winter.

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