Sea Lion Pupping Season in November: The End of a Beautiful Period

Galapagos sea lion pupping season is as cute as it is intense. In spite of the adorable and endearing nature of these newborn Galapagos sea lion pups, the modus operandi surrounding the protection and raising of these pups is a lot of work on the mother’s behalf. During this time of year, guests can witness Galapagos sea lion pupping season as it comes to an end (typically during the peak months of the Dry Season which are August, September, and October). From spectacularly lucky moments of witnessing an actual sea lion birth to seeing just how protective the mothers are of their newborns, the Galapagos Islands astound each and every visitor with its amazing display of wildlife. In this blog, we take a look at the fascinating features of the Galapagos sea lion pupping season.  

Newborn Galapagos Sea Lion.
Newborn Galapagos Sea Lion.

Mothers and Their Pups

Mother sea lions don’t nurse their pups for a very long time. Actually, nursing lasts for around a week after the pup is born, after which the mothers go back to the sea to find food. The pup is usually left alone on the beach or with other pups whose moms have also gone to the sea. When the mother comes back, it can be a little tricky to find their respective pup, which is why they start barking until her pup recognizes her call and answers back. However, no matter how hungry the pup might be, the mother won’t nurse it until it has passed her “smell test.” It’s only through smell that she can confirm that it’s actually her pup that she’s going to feed and that it hasn’t been touched by humans.  

A Mother Sea Lion Smelling Its Pup.
A Mother Sea Lion Smelling Its Pup.

This serves as a reminder of one of the Galapagos National Park’s most important rules: do not touch the animals! This rule is two-fold. First, it not only keeps you safe from animals that don’t know how to interact with humans (even though Galapagos wildlife is well known for its fearlessness); and second, because touching them can greatly disrupt their lives. In the case of sea lion pups, if a human should happen to touch it (because let’s admit it, they are unbearably cute), the mother will smell it and abandon the pup right away. Abandoned pups usually don’t have really good chances of surviving on their own if they haven’t yet learned how to fish for themselves.  

Galapagos Sea Lion Pupping Season Bonus Feature: Delayed Implantation

Even though you can see Galapagos sea lion pups year-round, there is definitely a Galapagos sea lion pupping season peak, which coincides with the cold Humboldt Current that brings in waters that are rich in nutrients and food. Because Galapagos sea lions being opportunistic breeders, they are able to time their pup’s birth. Due to the fact that female sea lions can get pregnant only a week after giving birth, a second pup would need to be born 9 months later when food is scarcer.

But in order to avoid this untimely event, they go through delayed implantation. This means that once the egg is fertilized, it stays in the mother’s uterus – where it can stay for up to three months – until the time is right. Only then will the egg be implanted in the uterine wall and continue to develop normally. This makes it possible for the mother to give birth when the cold currents (and more food) are back in the Galapagos. 

A Colony Of Sea Lions.
A Colony Of Sea Lions Spotted During The Pupping Season.

Galapagos sea lion pupping season is but one fascinating feature of the whole Enchanted Isles experience. In fact, there’s a whole bunch of BIG15 iconic species that guests are able to experience alongside this natural phenomenon that is Galapagos sea lion pupping season! Book your trip today on any one of our Galapagos itineraries to experience the wonderful, living treasures that the islands are home too! 

Updated:May 8, 2023

Published:November 6, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



El Angel Ecological Reserve Ecuador

El Angel Ecological Reserve

El Angel Ecological Reserve is worth visiting if you want an authentic taste of the Ecuadorian Andes. Get ready to take some amazing photos!


Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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