Steller sea lions experience voluntary periods of fasting in the summer as part of their breeding and maternal attendance pattern. During the breeding season, female Steller sea lions stay on land for approximately 10 days during the perinatal period (the time between the pup’s birth and the mother’s first feeding trip) after which they undergo regular foraging cycles of 1-2 days at sea followed by 1 day fasts. The foraging success of these feeding trips is crucial to provide enough food for the survival of the pups and to keep the female in neutral energy balance. In addition, involuntary fasting periods could occur at any time of the year, due to unpredictable changes in food availability.
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Last updated: 05/26/08