Newborn baby sea lion adorably nurses on the beach
Sea lions are among the most lovable creatures on earth. They are adorably clumsy on land, resembling overweight dogs with faces always seem to be smiling. In fact, early sailors called these animals sea dogs for many years.
This mother sea lion lives on a beach on San Cristobal, one of the most beautiful islands of the Galapagos. She has just been out hunting for food among the rocks in the nearby ocean. Sea lions leave their babies on the beach and venture out on search of food for hours at a time. They need to eat an enormous amount while they are nursing, to provide enough calories for both her and her hungry pup. The pups remain on the beach and wait patiently for their mother. They will be protected by other sea lions on the beach as they wait. Often, they will play with the other young sea lions on the shore and in the shallows, but they don't dare swim out beyond the tide pools until they are big enough to avoid predators like sharks.
This tired mother has waddled across the beach, looking for a place to lie down and rest, her hungry pup followed her and now he has his chance to get a drink of milk. She has rolled over on her side to allow him access to his dinner. Seal lions will reproduce and have a pup each year, but the young will be dependent on her for up to three years. Nature can be harsh though, and if her first pup is still with her, he will not allow the new pup to nurse. Even the mother will push him away in order to have more milk for the larger pup. This is nature's way of ensuring that the stronger pup thrives. In the event that the first pup does not survive, the new pup will have all of her milk until he is weaned.
One of the saddest sounds imaginable is the cry of a lonely sea lion pup who has been abandoned by his mother. He will not be adopted by any other sea lions and will quickly starve. But this is how nature keeps a balance and it is how the sea lion population remains at its healthiest.
In this case though, the pup is going to be well cared for and he will continue to nurse round the clock to keep his little tummy full.