Do you know the difference between a seal and a sea lion? Many people don’t realize that there is a distinction between these two marine mammals. Seals are smaller than sea lions, and they have shorter fur coats. Sea lions more muscular than seals.
What is a Seal?
A seal is a pinniped which is a marine mammal that belongs to the family phocidae. Seals are found in all the oceans of the world, as well as some large lakes. There are more than 30 species of seals, and the population is estimated to be around 50 million.
Like all mammals, seals are warm-blooded and suckle their young just like humans. Millions of years ago, the ancestors of seals moved from the land back into the sea and evolved special characteristics to adapt to their environment. Seals appear very clumsy on land, but beneath the waves, they swim with elegance. Their tornado shaped bodies allow them to glide gracefully through the water. Seals are skilled hunters of fish and other marine prey.
Seals have flippers instead of hands and feet and they can dive for up to an hour to depths of more than 200 metres and even down to 500 metres without surfacing for breath.
What is a Sea Lion?
A sea lion is also a marine mammal that belongs to the Otariidae family of pinnipeds. Like seals, sea lions are found in all the oceans of the world. There are two types of sea lions: eared and earless. Eared sea lions are the most common, and they are found in the Pacific Ocean. Earless sea lions are found in the Atlantic and Southern oceans. There are around 50 million sea lions in the world.
There are seven species of Sea Lion worldwide but are all put together in the same family The seven species are:
- California Sea Lion – one most familiar sea lions. They are friendly animals often seen doing a variety of tricks in various locations while in captivity.
- Steller Sea Lion – the largest of the species in the world. The males can be as long as 11 feet and weigh 2,500 pounds.
- Australian Sea Lion – Males are dark brown with a light yellow mane around their heads.
- Galapagos Sea Lion – very large, with the males being about 1,000 pounds when they are full grown.
- New Zealand Sea Lion – also known as the Hooker’s Sea Lion, the New Zealand Sea Lion is one of the largest animals found in New Zealand.
- South American Sea Lion – the technical name for the South American Sea Lion is actually the Patagonian Sea Lion. However, you will rarely hear people or books refer to it that way.
- Japanese Sea Lion – the only way you will get to see a Japanese Sea Lion is in books, pictures, or online. They no longer exist which is very sad to say.
Sea lions have long torpedo shaped bodies that are suitably adapted to glide them through the water. They are also able to move around easily on land. Males are considerably larger than females. Males are very large and can weigh from 1,500 pounds up to 1 ton. They can measure up to 12 feet in length. Female sea lions are much smaller with a weight of 700 pounds and average about 9 feet in length.
Sea lions do not have very good eyesight and it is believed that they are nearsighted. There is evidence to indicate that Sea Lions can see better in the water than they can on land.
Differences Between Seal vs Sea Lion
As we mentioned before, seals are smaller than sea lions. The average seal is about six feet long, while the average sea lion is about nine feet long. Seals also have shorter fur coats than sea lions. Seal fur is typically gray or brown, while sea lion fur can be brown, tan, or black.
Seals are more agile than sea lions and can swim faster. This is because seals have a more streamlined body than sea lions. Seals also have a layer of blubber, which helps them to stay warm in cold water. Sea lions do not have a layer of blubber and are not as agile as seals.
Similarities Between Seal vs Sea Lion
Despite their differences, seals and sea lions share many similarities. For example, both animals are marine mammals and belong to the family of pinnipeds. They are also found in all the oceans of the world. Seals and sea lions are both predators, and they eat fish, squid, and crustaceans.
What is The Difference Between Seals and Sea Lions?
- Long hairless foreflippers
- Hindflippers rotate underneath to allow them to walk on land
- Swim underwater using foreflippers like wings of a bird
- Long smooth whiskers or vibrissae
- Short, hairy foreflippers and long claws
- Move on land by wiggling on belly and keep hindflippers straight out
- Swim by steering with foreflippers and powering with hindflippers
- Whiskers are crimped or beaded