Marine scientists are reporting that a colony of sea lions, previously unique to the Galapagos Islands, has unexpectedly decamped 1400km southeast to an island just off the coast of Peru in what may be another symptom of global warming.

According to the Peru-based Organisation of Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals, it is the first recorded instance of a colony of Galapagos sea lions abandoning their familiar waters around the archipelago, which belongs to neighbouring Ecuador.

About 30 of the animals in the group have moved to Foca Island, where the waters have risen in temperature over the past 10 years from an average of 17C to 23C.

That is roughly the same as the surface waters around the Galapagos, which have a unique ecosystem and reputation as a living laboratory of evolution.

- INDEPENDENT