There are in total 33 species of sea mammals in Peru.,
ranging from the small otters which live amongst the rocks
along inaccessible beaches to the huge whales which frolic
in the open sea. Scientists have classified them in nine
families, the largest of which are the otarids
(sea lions) and delphinids
The most commonly-spotted mammals along
the Peruvian coast are the sea lions. Two
different species share the coastline lapped by the cold Humboldt
sea current: the droll sea lion
(Otaria byronia), which can weigh up to 300 kg and which prefer
sandy beaches, and fine sea lions (Arctocephalus
australis), with a slimmer body and which tend to gather in
the rocky outcrops and inaccessible cliffs that litter the
coastline. Both species reproduce from November to
March, which are ideal months for observation.
The best places for spotting sea lions is along the south
coast: the National Paracas Reserve, in the
department of Ica, features major sea lion
colonies on the Ballestas Islands, Punta
Arquillo and Morro Quemado, which
gather the largest number of sea lions anywhere
in the country.
The same area is a refuge for the elusive marine
wildcat and the chingungo, a beaver
that lives amongst the rocks and rarely-visited beaches of
the central coast and south of Peru. The beaches of Mendieta
and La Catedral are home to the largest population
of this species, currently on the endangered list.
A little further south lies Punta San Juan,
a reserved zone established to protect the nesting grounds
for guano birds, Humboldt penguins and a large colony of sea
Cetaceans, meanwhile, are also commonly
found in Peruvian waters. Various species of dolphins
such as the bottle-nosed or common dolphin, as well as marsopas
are habitual residents of the shallow waters of the coastline.
All species of cetaceans in Peru are protected
by law. Fishing, consumption and trading of products derived
from dolphins is strictly prohibited.
Remember to read our "Recommendations"
for your trip to Peru, as well as other important issues in
If you need any details or want more information, please
use our "Contact
top of the page