Steller Sea Lions and Hump Back Whales – Oregon
Steller, or Northern, sea lions are sometimes confused with California sea lions but are much larger and lighter in color. Males may grow to 11 feet in length and weigh almost 2,500 pounds. Females are much smaller, growing to 9 feet in length and weighing up to 1,000 pounds. Steller sea lions are light tan to reddish brown in color. They have a blunt face and a boxy, bear-like head. Adult males do not have a visible sagittal crest (the bump on the top of their heads) like that of adult male California sea lions. Male Stellers have a bulky build and a very thick neck that resembles a lion’s mane, hence the name “sea lion.”
Humpback whales migrate up to 16,000 miles each year and feed mainly in the summer in polar waters and migrate to tropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter. During the winter, humpbacks fast and live off their fat reserves; their diet consists of krill and small fish. Humpback whales like all baleen whales are seasonal feeders that feed on crustaceans, plankton, and small fish.
A humpback whale will eat about 5,000 pounds of plankton, krill and small fish every day during the feeding season, one feeding technique they use is called bubble net fishing. This is where a group of humpback whales swim rapidly in circles around a school of fish and blow air through their blowholes. The bubbles form a barrier that helps to confine the school of fish within an area, and then one or more whales will swim upwards and through the bubble net with their mouth’s wide open and gulp thousands of fish.