California Sea Lion

Zalophus californianus

California sea lions are predators, like all species of seal. Their habitat is not just limited to California, they actually colonise the entire coast from Mexico and, outside the breeding season, even as high up as Alaska, where they live together and hunt.

Athletic beach beauties

California sea lions are considerably slimmer and more athletic than their relatives. They can turn their strong back flippers under their body and walk on all fours instead of crawling clumsily. But they still spend most of their time in the water.

Sensitive antennae

The whiskers next to the snout are highly sensitive. See lions use them for orientation and to locate their prey by perceiving the slightest vibrations.


  • Origin

    North America, Pacific coast, primarily California to Mexico (Baja California)

  • Habitat

    preferably sandy beaches and rocky coasts

  • Diet

    They prefer salmon, octopus and crab; females eat about 5 kg per day, males can eat up to 25 kg during the cold season.

  • Status

    approx. 355,000

  • Size

    180 to 250 cm

  • Weight

    100 to 350 kg

  • Gestation period

    11 to 12 months

  • Achievable age

    up to 17 years in the wild, up to 28 years in human care

Threat Categories of IUCN

Did you know that ...

...sea lions can move at speeds of up to 30 km/h in the water,
...can dive up to 100 metres deep, for which they close up their noses and ears,
...and their young only start swimming once they're 2 to 3 weeks old?

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