Sea Lion

The Facts

  • Genus/Species: Zalophus californianus, Zalophus wollebaeki, Zalophus japonicas.
  • Conservation Status: Some species are endangered, some are vulnerable.
  • Location: Coastlines of the Pacific Ocean

Sea Lion
Sea Lion

The Scoop

Fast Swimmers, Deep Divers

Sea lions live in the ocean, on beaches and rocky shorelines. They have flippers at the end of their limbs to help them swim and a thick layer of fat or blubber to keep them warm in the chilly water. Sea lions are great swimmers and can swim very fast. Their sleek bodies are perfect for diving deep in the ocean as well. Sea lions find their way around the dark ocean with the help of their sensitive whiskers. They have tiny ear flaps and an unusual way of moving on land, by rotating their hind flippers forward and scooting along beaches and rocky shorelines. Sea lions are rather noisy and can make a variety of sounds, even bark! 

A sea lion is as long as an adult is tall- around 6 feet, sometimes more.  They are pretty heavy though and can weigh as much as two or three adults put together. Sea lions love to eat fish, squid, crabs, and clams. Most of its food is just swallowed whole. The sea lion will just toss the fish up and around until it can slide headfirst down the sea lion’s mouth.

Until recently, sea lions were hunted by humans and as a result, large numbers of sea lions were wiped out. However, with the help of international laws to protect them, sea lion numbers are increasing once again.


Did You Know?

  • The sea lion has nostrils that seal up automatically when it dives, so that it can remain underwater for up to 40 minutes at a time.
  • A sea lion’s whiskers can rotate around with the underwater currents. This lets the sea lion "feel" any food swimming nearby.
  • A group of sea lions is called a raft!
  • Sea lions don’t drink water at all- they get all the water they need from their food.


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