A colony of Galapagos sea lions has moved to Peru – and scientists blame global warming. The Galapagos Islands are home to many endemic species, including the Galapagos Sea Lion, found nowhere else in the world. The lovable Galapagos sea lion is a favorite among Galapagos visitors, delighting travelers with their antics and underwater acrobatics.

In the past, an occasional individual Galapagos Sea Lion would swim too far out to sea, get caught in a current and find itself along the coast of Peru, Ecuador or even Colombia, but those were cases of unfortunate individuals.

In this case, an entire colony of some 30 Galapagos Sea Lions has taken up residence off the coast of Peru on Foca Island. Foca Island is already home to wildlife including sea lions and Humboldt Penguins. The Galapagos Sea Lions will also recognize old friends such as Blue-footed Boobys and Frigate Birds in their new home.

According to scientists, the move is not completely unexpected. Global warming has been wreaking havoc on local ecosystems for years. Peruvian scientists estimate that the average water temperature off of Foca Island has gone up from 17° to 23° Celsius in the last decade or so.

This warmer water is attractive to the Galapagos sea lions, accustomed to a warmer environment. The increased temperatures are also affecting the Galapagos Islands, where many species are in peril and some are thought to have gone extinct.

he traveling sea lions aren’t the first ones to leave the Galapagos Islands to take up residence elsewhere. A Galapagos tortoise named Harriet, who was taken from the islands while very little, lived for decades in the Australia Zoo, where she was a visitor favorite.

She passed away in 2006, at the age of 175 years old! Another Galapagos giant tortoise named Diego was acquired by the San Diego zoo in the 1930’s, although he was sent back to the islands in 1977 and is now a neighbor of Lonesome George at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora.



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