Sea Lion Facts
Sea Lion Facts

32 Strange but True Sea Lion Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published February 4, 2021
  • Sea lions can swim at bursts of up to 25 miles per hour, but typically swim around 11 mph.[1]
  • On average, sea lions live about 20 years, but some have been known to live up to 30 years or more.[1]
  • There are seven different species of sea lions: 1) California sea lion, 2) Steller sea lion, 3) Australian sea lion (endangered), 4) Galapagos sea lion (endangered), 5) New Zealand sea lion (endangered), 6) South American sea lion, and 7) Japanese sea lion (extinct).[1]
  • The ancestors of sea lions were land animals, similar to bears.[1]
  • Both sea lions and seals are marine mammals called "pinnipeds," but they are different in several ways. Sea lions are brown, bark loudly, "walk" on land using large flippers, and they have visible ear flaps. True seals have small flippers, wriggle on land, and lack visible ear flaps.[1]
  • Sea Lion Pup Facts
    Baby sea lions weigh about 13-20 pounds and are 2.5 feet long when they are born
  • A newborn seal pup weighs about 55 pounds (25 kg), can see, and is fully furred.[1]
  • Sea lions can dive as deep as 900 feet and can stay submerged for over a half an hour.[1]
  • Sea lions are members of the pinniped family, which means "flipper feet" or "feather feet."[1]
  • Sea lions display extreme dimorphism. Adult males can be as much as four times larger than adult females.[1]
  • Sea lions have ear flaps that they can turn so that water doesn't get in their ears while swimming.[1]
  • Sea lions live along the coastlines and islands of the Pacific Ocean.[10]
  • The largest sea lion is the Steller sea lion. It can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,204 lbs.) and grow up to 10 feet.[10]
  • Sea lions consume about 5–8% of their body weight, or 6.8-15.6 kg, in a single feeding.[10]
  • Sea lions are very social on land and in the water. They love to lie next to each other and even on top of each other.[1]
  • A sea lion's whiskers function as a navigation system. A sea lion will get lost quickly if it doesn't have whiskers.[7]
  • Sea Lion Fun Facts
    Sea lions are incredibly social animals

  • A sea lion's flippers act like a built-in heating and cooling system. When it's cold, blood vessels in the flippers constrict, and when it's warm, blood circulates to help keep the sea lion cool.[1]
  • Scientists are unsure about why sea lions don't live in the northern Atlantic Ocean. The temperature and food supply are compatible with the sea lion's habitat and diet.[1]
  • Depending on the species, sea lions can hold their breath underwater for 8 to 20 minutes.[7]
  • Sea lions are so named because they have loud roars, and the males of some sea lion species grow thick manes around their neck.[7]
  • Sea lions are the only non-human mammals that can keep a beat on their own.[9]
  • New Zealand closed a road for a month after sea lions made their home at a nearby golf course and began to cross the road regularly to access the beach.[3]
  • Sea lions can eat up to 44 lbs. (20 kg) of fish per day.[1]
  • Sea lions are prone to overheating and are often seen "jugging," or lifting their flippers out of water to try to cool off.[1]
  • Sea lions are able to dive deep into the water because they have a high tolerance for carbon dioxide. They also concentrate oxygen in their heart and central nervous system rather than in non-vital organs.[1]
  • Sea lions cannot smell under water, but they have a highly developed sense of smell on land. Females use smell to identify their pups, and males use smell to find females who are ready to mate.[1]
  • Angel of the Sea Fact
    Sea lions use their hind legs to steer and their front limbs to swim
  • Sea lions' nickname is "angel of the sea" because their front flippers look like angel's wings when they are swimming.[7]
  • In 2018, a sea lion flung an octopus at a kayaker near New Zealand. The sea lion was most likely playing with its food or trying to break up the octopus to make it more edible.[4]
  • In South American culture, the native Moche people worshipped sea lions and often depicted them in their art.[7]
  • The United States government trains sea lions to find and retrieve equipment lost at sea and to identify intruders swimming into restricted areas. While sea lions don't have sonar like dolphins do, they have excellent eyesight.[5]
  • Two huge sea lions climbed aboard a small yacht in Olympia, Washington. The blubbery pirates promptly sank the small boat.[6]
  • In 2018, President Trump changed the Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow the killing of sea lions in certain areas. Previously, the law protected sea lions from being killed, captured, or harassed.[2]
  • Researchers believe that climate change and nutrient pollution caused by runoff is causing sea lions to abandon their pups at an increasing rate.[8]
  • Interesting Sea Lion Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Interesting Sea Lion Infographic

Suggested for you


Trending Now

Load More