Last Reviewed and Updated on July 22, 2022
Sea Lions are mammals of the sea, with long front flippers and round heads. They are members of the seal family and have quite a few unique and interesting attributes. Read on and learn some facts about sea lions, one of the most fascinating marine mammals.
1. There are 6 living species of sea lions
The six species are The Galápagos sea lion, the California sea lion, the Australian sea lion, the South American sea lion, Steller’s or northern sea lion, and the Hooker’s sea lion.
The Japanese sea lion was the 7th, but it became extinct in the 1970s. They were hunted to extinction.
2. They have the ability to walk on all four flippers
Sea lions are closely related to seals. Unlike seals, sea lions walk on all four. They use both front flippers and back flippers. Unlike seals, the sea lion can rotate their back flippers, and this enables them to walk on all fours.
They are also related to walrus, which have the same ability.
3. Steller sea lions are the largest; they can weigh a ton
On average, sea lion males weigh about 700 lbs (320 kg) and females 300 pounds 300 lb (135kg)m but the Steller sea lions, the largest sea lion species, top these numbers by quite a bit.
The Steller sea lion males can weigh between 990–2,470 lb (450–1,120 kg) and females 530–770 lb (240–350 kg).
4. They consume large quantities of food in a single feeding
What has to be one of the most fun facts about sea lions is their immense appetite. They are known to eat quantities of food equal to about 5 to 8% of their body weight in a single sitting. An average human weighs about 136 lb / 62 kg (globally), so a human of that weight would need to eat 6.8-11lb / 3.1-5kg of food in a single sitting to be on par with the sea lion.
5. Sea lions have many adaptations for diving
Sea lions can dive for relatively long periods of time, they can be underwater for up to about 20 minutes, but about 10 minutes is more of an average. They also dive deep; they can dive up to depths of about 900 feet / 270 m.
Their bodies adapted for long dives and the high pressures that come with the depths they dive at. They slow their heart rate and can control the gas exchange, digestion rate, and blood flow to their extremities.
6. There are documented events of sea lions helping humans
There have been a few documented events where sea lions assisted humans. The most notable of these was when John Kevin Hines attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, and a sea lion helped him stay afloat until he was rescued.
7. But they can be very dangerous as well
While sea lion attacks on humans are rare, they do happen if people get too close to these animals.
8. They have very long front flippers
What really sets these animals apart from most seals and walruses is their long front flippers.
9. Sea lions are excellent hunters
They either hunt alone or cooperatively by heading fish together and picking them off.
They are able to hunt in areas with low visibility, too, with the help of their whiskers.
10. They have one of the longest whiskers of all mammals
Their whiskers are about 12 inches / 30 cm long.