The team of Marine Mammal Specialists at Sea Lion Point strive to ensure that all interactions with their South African Fur Seals are as educational as they are entertaining, and are more than happy to answer all of your questions.
However, there are always some questions that guests ask more than others. Chief among them: are they Fur Seals or Sea Lions?
“They’re actually South African Fur Seals,” said Heidi PerezCao, Vice President of Sea Lion Point.
Scientifically classified as Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus, South African Fur Seals are one of 34 species in the Pinniped Suborder, commonly referred to as sea lions.
“The terms fur seal and sea lion both used to refer to the Otariidae family of Pinniped. The Otariidae family consists of 15 different species, including the ones that live here at Sea Lion Point.”
Heidi explains that despite their similarities, Sea Lions are anatomically quite different from the true seals (Family Phocidae).
“Sea Lions have external ear flaps that seals don’t, as well as various other anatomical and physiological characteristics. Their flippers are also much longer, so they can traverse land much easier,” Heidi said.
Ensuring the South African Fur Seals live in a healthy environment is another priority for the team at Sea Lion Point.
“Each South African Fur Seal at Atlantis is fed restaurant quality fish from the best suppliers, including Squid, Capelin, Herring and school Whiting. We go to great lengths to ensure each animal’s diet is tailored meet their individual age, sex, seasonality, and other psychological requirements.”
Heidi says that the bond between the South African Fur Seals and the staff at Sea Lion Point is strong and affectionate one.
“Our marine mammal specialists have established strong, positive relationships with each South African Fur Seal. They interact with them using operant conditioning, which means we provide positive reinforcement when the animal demonstrates a desired behavior. This could be with a fish, a touch, or verbal praise,”
“Like people, individual South African Fur Seals have very unique personalities. They are very affectionate and gentle animals, and it is an absolute joy working with them each and every day.”
Heidi believes that the chance to get up-close and personal with these amazing animals is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“We want all our guests to leave not only with a special photo souvenir, but with a smile on their face and a memory that will last a lifetime.”
Come and meet the charming animals at Sea Lion Point during your next visit to Atlantis, The Palm.
Enjoy a kiss or a cuddle in Sea Lion Photo Fun, or wade in waist-high water for a truly up close and personal interaction in Sea Lion Discovery. You’ll enjoy whiskery kisses, cuddles and one-on-one time whilst learning what makes these marine mammals so unique.