California Sea Lions

Scientific Name Zalophus californianus

Native To Pacific coast of North America and the Galapagos Islands

Habitat Rocky shores

Diet Over 50 species of fish including: salmon, octopuses, northern anchovy, herring, opaleye and squid. At West Edmonton Mall, we feed our sea lions squid, herring, capelin, smelt and mackerel.

Size and Age Males up to 2.4 m (8 ft) long, 340 kg (750 lbs), females generally no larger than 100 kg (220 lbs); average lifespan of 20-30 years

Natural History

California sea lions are “eared seals” which are commonly mistaken as "true seals." Sea lions (or eared seals) and true seals can be differentiated by the way they move on land and by their ears. Sea lions have a rotating hip bone, which allows them to tuck in their hind flippers so they can walk, run, jump and climb. True seals, on the other hand, 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, whereas true seals simply have tiny holes covered by fur.

Near Threatened

Conservation Status

Like all marine mammals, California sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Common threats for these animals are: incidental catch and entanglement in fishing gear, gunshot wounds, or other human-caused injuries—commercial fisherman view them as a nuisance.


A few words from our Sea Lion Trainers:


"Having the chance to be a part of our sea lion's lives all the way into their old age is a very unique opportunity based off trust and mutual respect between the keeper and the animal. Building a relationship where the animal allows us to touch them, give them voluntary eyedrops, brush their teeth, administer medication and conduct medical procedures is very rewarding in itself. Having an animal that may no longer see us clearly or hear us clearly but still trusts us to care for them is extremely fulfilling and a big responsibility. Caring for geriatric animals requires a lot of patience and compassion, trying our best to understand how to meet their needs and give them the best life possible under our care."


Interesting Facts

  • Sea lions have a total of 40-60 vibrissae (whiskers) that are supplied with muscles and nerves. They are used to find fish when the water is dark and visibility is low.
  • They can swim as fast as 40 km (25 mi) an hour.
  • They have the ability to dive as far as 274 m (899 ft), but generally they won’t dive that deep because their food is found in shallower waters.
  • Sea lions have a blubber layer that insulates and keeps them warm. Excess blubber can also function as an energy reserve. This is particularly important for males, due to their fasting during breeding season

Our Sea Lions


Quinty is our youngest and smallest California Sea Lion at Marine Life. She was born at the Royal Artis Zoo in Amsterdam and arrived at Marine Life on December 20, 2007, when she was only a year and a half old. Quinty celebrates her 15th birthday on June 13, 2022!

Quinty is our most vocal sea lion, if you’re walking past and hear some noises it’s most likely her!


Clara is our oldest Sea Lion at Marine life and is Pablo’s older sister! Clara celebrates her 28th birthday on June 16, 2022!

  • Clara has a heart shaped nose!

  • Clara’s favorite thing is learning new behaviors. She is incredibly motivated and loves to participate in her sessions.


He was born on July 20th, 2022 to mom Quinty and dad Pablo.
Wembley continues to grow and develop well. He has grown to be roughly half the size of his mom in 7 short months. While he is still nursing from Quinty, Wembley has been seen by his trainers showing slight interest in and playing with fish presented to him! As marine mammals, California sea lion pups can nurse for up to a year before changing over to a fish-based diet.
One of his favourite new enrichment items is a small purple water gun! He often chases and bites at the stream of water when it is used. He has also been known to lounge around on a large floating yellow mat, that was weaved by trainers using firehose provided by the Stony Plain Firehall!
If you would like to catch a glimpse of Wembley, keep an eye on our large showpool. He often spends time during the day in the pool with his mom. Be sure to keep an ear open as well, as sea lions use vocalizations to identify and find their pups. It is quite common to hear Wembley and Quinty barking back and forth at each other!


Pablo is our only male Sea Lion at Marine Life, he is also Clara’s brother!  He was born at the Black Pool Zoo in England and arrived at Marine life on October 23, 2004 with Kelpie and Clara. Pablo turns 26 on June 14, 2022!


  • If you walk past Sea Lions rock and can see a dark shape resting on the bottom of the pool you’re most likely seeing Pablo! Pablo's favorite treats are fishicles