Featured Image Credit: dailystar.co.uk
By: Kira Krall
Divers off the coast of Santa Catalina Island California met an unlikely swimming buddy. A California sea lion that had a run-in with a predator began swimming near the group. Watch the curious tail-less sea lion maneuver with ease in the video below. It’s a brutal injury, so be prepared to get glimpses of its digestive organs.
Sea lions generate most of their movement from their pectoral fins. While steering may be a problem without a tail, this pinniped has no problem propelling its eight-foot-long body. Catching slower fish won’t be a problem either. The sea lion’s sensitive mechanosensory hairs (whiskers!) help it detect the slight movements generated by its prey. Even a flounder buried in the sand could be snapped up if the sea lion detects the water moving over its gills.
Because the injury had stopped bleeding, we can assume that the attack didn’t happen just moments before the divers showed up. The mostly white tissue had time to heal after the sea lion escaped with its life.
The fast and furious adult California sea lion has few predators. What’s puzzling is that whatever took the sea lion’s tail didn’t go in for the kill. Killer whales and their fairly high hunting success rate wouldn’t pass up such an easy meal. However, it’s equally unlikely that a shark would give up the chase after taking away the sea lion’s ability to maneuver away from danger. It’s possible that a strategically placed nick from the sea lion’s teeth or claw could have stalled the predator long enough for the pinniped to escape.
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