California Sea Lions

Scientific Name Zalophus californianus

Native To North Pacific from the Japanese coast to California, Mexico and Galapagos Islands

Habitat Rocky Shores

Diet Over 50 species of fish including; Squid, Salmon, Octopuses, Northern anchovy, Herring and Opaleye. At West Edmonton Mall we feed our Sea Lions Squid, Herring, Capelin, Smelt and Mackerel.

Size and Age Males to 2.4 m (8 feet) long, 340 kg (750 pounds); females generally no larger than 100 kg (220 pounds)

Natural History

California Sea Lions belong to the “Eared Seal” family and are commonly mistaken for a seal. Some easy ways to tell a Sea Lion apart from a Seal are the way they move on land and their ears. Sea Lions have a rotating hip bone which allows them to tuck in their hind flippers and allows them to walk, run, jump and climb. Where Seals have a fused hip bone and are not capable of walking, running or even jumping. They slide more on their bellies. Sea Lions have external ear flaps that are easy to see, Seals simply have tiny holes covered by fur.

Near Threatened

Conservation Status

California Sea Lions are protected under the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) like all marine mammals. Some common threats for these animals would be Incidental catch and entanglement in fishing gears, gunshot wounds or other human-caused injuries as commercial fisherman view them as a nuisance.

Interesting Facts

  • Sea Lions have a total of 40-60 vibrissae (whiskers) that are supplied with muscles and nerves. They use them to find fish when the water is dark and visibility is low.
  • Can swim as fast as 40km an hour
  • They have the ability to dive as far as 274 m (899 ft) but generally don’t dive more than (85-243ft) as their food is found in shallower waters
  • Sea Lions have a blubber layer that insulates them and keeps them warm but can also function as an excess energy reserve. This is particularly important for males because they fast during breeding season