January 27, 2022
A Big Leap
- as seen by -Jennifer Rant
Have you ever seen a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) leap high out of the water and return headfirst? It is a natural behavior called “porpoising”.
Sea lions can reach bursts up to 25 mph. Speed is critical in the wild enabling these pinnipeds to catch fish or to escape predators. By propelling into the air, they no longer experience water pressure. The reduced pressure gives sea lions a “boost” of speed.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium sea lions are supplied with all the fish they need. They do not have predators but still exhibit porpoising. Given their playful nature, it may just be fun for our animals.
This is 21-year-old Osborn (above), demonstrating porpoising at the aquarium’s Aquatheater. It allows him to look around while swimming at fast speeds.
The next time you visit the aquarium, keep an eye out for our sea lions. They may be watching you, too.