Seals vs. Sea Lions – What’s The Difference

Seals vs. Sea Lions
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Have you ever wondered about the main differences between seals and their “second cousins,” sea lions?

The marine mammals known as “pinnipeds” include seals and sea lions, which have different physical traits and ecological adaptations.

What Is A Sea Lion?

Sea Lion
Sea Lion

Pinnipeds include sea lions. They are also regarded as seals because they belong to the Otariidae family, which also includes fur seals. In both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, they can be found in both subarctic and tropical glasses of water. Although they are different, they are related to both seals and walruses.

The Australian sea lion, the Galápagos sea lion, and the New Zealand sea lion are the three sea lion species that are on the IUCN’s endangered species list. The lifespan of a sea lion is twenty to thirty years.

What Is A Seal?


A seal also referred to as a pinniped, is a common semiaquatic predatory marine animal. They are made up of several different families, such as Odobenidae, Otariidae, and Phocidae. The earless seals, also known as “true seals,” belong to the Phocidae family. The number of extinct seal species is thought to be over fifty. They share a common ancestor with one. The leopard seal, harbor seal, and northern elephant seal are a few of the most well-known seal species.

Seals are found all over the world, but they are most prevalent in the polar regions’ colder waters. They spend the majority of their time in the water, only coming to land to mate, give birth, or flee from predators. Larger predators like sharks and killer whales frequently pursue them.

Seals Vs Sea Lions

All seals, sea lions, and walruses are classified as pinnipeds, but due to differences in their anatomical characteristics, some seals and sea lions belong to different taxonomic families.

In contrast to true seals, which belong to the family Phocidae, fur seals and sea lions both belong to the Otariidae family.

The ear flaps and the flippers are the most distinguishing features between seals and sea lions. Additionally, seals are typically more laid-back and quieter than sea lions, which are thought to be very vocal and noisy animals.

The ears are the most straightforward way to distinguish between seals and sea lions. Sea lions have external ears, which stick out from their heads and resemble tiny ear flaps. Seals, on the other hand, have ear holes rather than external flaps.

Between Seals And Sea Lions, Which Is A Better Swimmer?

Seals are better swimmers than sea lions because of their body shape and short flippers. The ability to swim for longer periods of time than seals is due to their much greater aquatic adaptation.

They are also more streamlined than sea lions, with no discernible ear flaps, short flippers, fish-like tails, and a greater love of the water.

Unlike seals, which move through the water by swimming like a fish, sea lions move through the water by using their large front flippers, which take a little bit longer.

Sea Lion Vs. Seal: The Taxonomical Difference

Pinniped marine mammals include seals, sea lions, and walruses. The term “pinniped” describes creatures with fins or flippers on their feet. It’s a name for marine mammals that have flippers on their back and front.

They have long whiskers, big flippers, and thick layers of blubber. The earless seals (phocids), eared seals (otariids), and walruses (odobenids) are three of the approximately 33 species that make up this suborder.

Earless seals include Elephant Seals, Harbor Seals, Leopard Seals, Harp Seals, Spotted Seals, Grey Seals, Baikal Seals, Hooded Seals, Weddell Seals, Crabeater Seals, Pusa, Bearded Seals, Monk Seals, and Neomonachus.

Sea Lion Vs. Seal: Anatomical Differences Ears

Sea Lions, Fur Seals, South American Sea Lions, Australian Sea Lions, California Sea Lions, New Zealand Sea Lions, Galapagos Sea Lions, New Zealand Sea Lions, Steller Sea Lions, and Japanese Sea Lions are all enclosed by ear seals.

There are three types of walruses: Pacific, Atlantic, and Laptev.

In a taxonomical sense, seals and sea lions belong to the same suborder. They do, however, come from different taxonomic families, which gives them different behavioral, anatomical, habitat, and mating differences.

Do Sea Lions Kill Seals?

A sea lion’s natural prey is not sealed. Typically carnivores, sea lions will consume any small animals they can find, including clams, crabs, fish, and squid.

However, Steller Sea Lions, a much larger species of the sea lion, have been observed killing and devouring seals.

Which Is The More Assertive?

Being intelligent animals, seals and sea lions can develop social bonds and relationships with people over time.

However, if seals and sea lions are seen on beaches, they are wild animals and will become hostile and defensive if approached.

In general, seals are friendlier to people and less likely to attack, whereas sea lions can be a little more hostile.

It does, however, depend on the seal. Since many sea lions are kept in zoos and wildlife parks, they are accustomed to interacting with people and are therefore very amiable.

Additionally, seals in Californian harbors have grown accustomed to people throwing food at them and are no longer frightened or hostile toward them.

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that because sea lions are such big, wild animals, they can be unpredictable.

If you come across seals or sea lions in their natural habitat, it is best to leave them alone and not bother them.

Sea Lions And Seals: Which Is Faster?

This will depend on the environment since seals are better suited to living in the water than on land and have better swimming abilities than sea lions, but they are largely useless when on land.

On land, seals are completely incapable of moving quickly and can only flop around.

Sea lions can move around on land with ease, but they are not as hydrodynamic as seals because they can’t use their back flippers as fins as seals can.

While sea lions are capable of swimming at speeds of up to 21.6 kph, they typically prefer to cruise at much slower speeds.

Seals vs. Sea Lions

Sea Lion Vs. Seal: Behavioral Differences

It is reasonable to assume that these two species enjoy swimming in the water. Seals are better suited to life in the water, though. The ability to walk or gallop makes sea lions more suitable for land than other animals.

Meet the 8 Most Romantic Sea Creatures is another article you might enjoy.

There are some significant differences in vocalization and communication. Compared to sea lions, seals are quieter and have softer vocalizations.

Also, compared to sea lions, seals are less social. They are lonelier animals that spend more time submerged. They travel to the shore to mate once a year. Sea Lions, on the other hand, can live in larger colonies or rafts of up to 1.500 people.


What can we infer from this post? Seals and sea lions are not the same species of animal. Despite being members of the same taxonomic suborder, they are from different families. Their differences in appearance, size, gait, and way of life are the main ones.

Therefore, the next time you take a maritime tour and see either a Sea Lion or a Seal, brag about your knowledge by telling your friends which animal they are seeing and why they are different.

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