Length

up to 20 ft

Weight

ranging from 2,000 – 8,500 lbs.

Population

75 million

Distribution

Most live in the cold waters of the Arctic or off the coasts of Antarctica. Fur seals and sea lions live in the Northern Pacific and off the coasts of South America, Antarctica, southern Australia, and southwestern Africa.

Description

Both seals and sea lions are pinnipeds. However, the difference between seals and sea lions lies in many characteristics. For one, seals have petite, furry feet, with a small claw on each toe of their thinly webbed flippers. Their cousin, the sea lion, has long fore flippers that are covered in skin. You will find that sea lions have small outer flaps for ears while seals have small holes on the sides of their heads. Sea lions are noisy and tend to spend most of their time on land. Smaller and quieter, seals are better adapted to both land and sea life. Their hind flippers are angled in a way that makes them quick swimmers but slow on land, usually moving by dragging their stomachs. Sea lions have the opposite trait in which their hind flippers rotate, allowing them to walk rather well.

Less social than their cousin, seals prefer to live a majority of their life alone within the water, coming up once a year to mate, while you will often see sea lions congregated in herds upon the shore. What do seals eat? For the most part, they prey on fish. However, squid and lobster sometimes make an appearance in their diet. When it comes to whale watching in San Diego, the California sea lion is one often seen, living in the shallow waters of the West Coast. They eat a variety of prey, ranging from squid to sardines, and are found to be a bit more skittish around humans.