Sea Life

California Sea Lion Facts & Information Guide

Zalophus californianus – The California sea lion is a group of marine mammals belonging to the family Otariidae, commonly known as an eared seal. They are named so because they have prominent flaps of external ears which distinguish them from the other seal families. They are often seen flipping out of the water or sitting on the top of the rocks just to maintain their body temperature. Scroll down to learn more about California sea lions.

What Is The Geological Distribution Of The California Sea Lion?

The California sea lion is as the name indicates are dominant among the coastal regions of California and Mexico. They have also been sighted in the open waters of the Galapagos Islands, Tres Marias Islands, the southern Sea of Japan, Baja Island, and along the Northern coast of the Pacific Ocean. However, these species exhibit migratory behavior seasonally.

Geographical Distribution of California Sea Lion

Physical Description Of California Sea Lion

The California sea lions have different colorations, the newborn is black brownish which after first changes to light brown, and when they reach the adult stage the color changes to dark brown. They have 2 long wings like flippers which help them in swimming by propelling the flow of water in the opposite direction. They also possess 2 small claws which allow them to walk on the land.

Physical Appearance of California Sea Lion

Do California Sea Lions Have Well-Developed Senses?

Yes! They have well-developed sensory organs. The two large eyes provide them with a clear vision in low light as well as under the water. As they are eared seals, they possess a well-developed sense such as they are capable of hearing a sound both above or below the water. Interestingly, they have well-developed olfactory organs which work best when they are out of the water, underwater they are not capable of smelling.

How Long Can A California Sea Lion Be?

As sea lions are dimorphous species, the size of the male and female differs somehow. At the time of birth, the young are about 30 inches or 75 cm in length and 13 to 20 pounds or 6 to 9 kg in weight. The male seals can reach a maximum length of 7.8 feet or 2.4 meters and weigh about 770 to 850 pounds or 350 to 390 kg whereas the female seals are approximately 6.6 feet or 2 meters in length and weigh about 220 to 240 pounds or 100 to 110 kg.

What Feeding Habitat Do California Sea Lion Adapts?

The California sea lion is an opportunistic feeder which feeds on squids, rockfish, mackerels, anchovy, crustaceans, mollusks, salmon, herring, octopuses, hake cephalopods or sometimes seabirds. They have powerful jaws containing approximately 34 to 38 teeth, strong enough to catch and kill the prey and swallow it. On average, sea lions every day requires 5 to 8 % food of their total body weight. The seals hunt the prey both in solitary or in groups.  

Diet of California Sea Lion

What Reproductive Behavior Do California Sea Lions Exhibit?

The breeding season of California sea lions occur usually in June or July. After mating, the males usually migrate north whereas the female seals remain in the areas until the completion of the breeding season of 11 months. The female seal gives birth to a single pup in the breeding season. The pups become mature at the age of 4 to 5 years and can have an average life span of 15 to 17 years in the wild and 20 to 30 years in captivity.

What Is The Conservational Status Of California Sea Lion?

The California sea lion is adapted to wildlife as well as lives a happy and long life in captivity. They are the only species whose populations have been expanding due to human care. They may get injured by getting entangled with boats or fishing nets. Each year few sea lions have been trapped to display in zoos or aquariums. However, they have been listed as “Least Concern” by IUCN.

Interesting Facts About California Sea Lion

Other than the data displayed above, some of the additional information related to the California sea lion is compiled here:

1: Sea lions are capable of living under the water as well as on land.

2:  They are called sea lions because they roar exactly like a lion.

3:  They are the social group of marine mammals and are the most intelligent among all other seal families.

4:  The California sea lion can take a deep dive of about 900 feet under the water.

5:  They are capable of living for approximately 10 minutes without breathing under the water.

6:  The pups of the California sea lion can swim when they are born.

7:  They usually travel in a group of 12 under the water but on land 1000 or even more gather at a time.

8:  Under the water, sea lions face threats from predatory hunters such as white sharks, bull sharks, or orcas.

9:  During the breeding season, the male sea lions do not feed on anything.

10:  They have friendly relations with humans, they can be trained, and are playful animals.


The California sea lion is a member of eared seals as they have external ears which distinguish them from the other seals. They are called sea lions because of their vocalization – roar like a lion. They have large flippers which allow them to swim and claws to walk on the land. On average, the seal each day requires 5 to 8 % energy of its total body weight, however, the population of seals has been expanding but they are considered Least Concern by IUCN. Interestingly, you can see them in any aquarium or zoo, as they are very well adapted to a captive environment.

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I am a Scholar and a dedicated content writer. I am on a mission to stamp out the importance of one of the ocean's most fascinating and remarkable creatures, the sharks, and to let people know about their role in keeping the ecosystem in equilibrium.