California sea lion looking right as it sits on a sandy beach

California sea lion

"See" the difference?


giant panda



North America

North America

Endangered Status



up to 8 feet
in length
The average bed is 6.25 feet long.
Sea lion compared to the size of a bed
fish, more

California sea lions also eat crabs, squid, and octopus.

beach habitat

California sea lions live in the Pacific Ocean and its rocky beaches.


Three California sea lions basking in the sun

What’s the difference between a seal and a sea lion? You can easily see a sea lion’s ears—just look for the little flaps of skin on the sides of the head. Seals don’t have ear flaps, just tiny ear openings.

Sea lion barking while swimming

Speak up!

Never timid about speaking what’s on their minds, sea lions make all sorts of barks, honks, trumpets, and roars. During the breeding season, bulls bark loudly and continuously to establish or defend their territories. A baby sea lion, called a pup, can pick out its mother from among hundreds gathered on rocky shores just by the sound she makes.

Sea lion under water

Hold your breath!

Sea lions are mammals and must breathe air, but they need to dive to catch food. With the help of nostrils that pinch closed automatically, a sea lion can stay underwater for up to 40 minutes at a time.