• Eumetopias;
  • Stellar sea lion;
  • female attendance pattern;
  • milk intake;
  • suckling;
  • growth rate;
  • maternal investment


The onshore and at-sea cycles of females, suckling behavior of pups and their milk intake were studied in Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) during 1983 at Año Nuevo Island, California. Females averaged approximately 21 h ashore and 36 h at sea. The trips to sea lengthened as pups aged, resulting in an overall decline in female time ashore to 30% by the sixth week following parturition. Activity budgets of pups showed no significant differences among suckling time, age and sex. Milk intake, estimated using labeled water studies, revealed that heavier pups consumed more milk than lighter ones (milk ingestion in ml/d = 4.26 + 0.0687 [Pup Mass in kg]). Mean milk intake was 1.78 ± 0.33 liters/d. Mean pup growth rate was 0.38 ± 0.1 kg/d. The results suggest that female attendance patterns are shaped by the increasing nutritional demands of growing pups and their increasing efficiency at suckling.