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California sea lion

Did you know?

Zalophus californianus

How can you tell the difference between a seal and a sea lion? Seals have ear holes, while sea lions have ear flaps. They also “walk” on land using their fore-flippers, while seals scoot on their bellies.

Discover Sea lions

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
California sea lions live in coastal waters from Canada to Mexico, and in the Galapagos Islands. Find our sea lion in the Rocky Shores habitat area, just next to the Pacific Seas Aquarium.
Rocky Shores
Meet the Keepers
Kind of splashy.
Meet our keepers every day at 3pm at the Marine Mammal Keeper Chat. They’ll be somewhere around the walruses, sea lions, seals or otters – bring your questions and watch them work!
See daily schedule

Meet our sea lions

Neah
Matia
Eloise
Boomer
Eating
(and predators!)
California sea lions love to eat – rockfish and anchovies, krill and squid.
Sharks, orcas and humans are their three main predators.
Calling
for dinner
Sea lions gather in huge colonies on seaside rocks for breeding and birthing.
Mothers have special calls to identify their pups to feed them.
Diving, growling
and breath-holding
Sea lions are very noisy – they bleat, growl, roar and bark to warn intruders, attract mates and more. Males defend their territory fiercely.
They’re also very fast swimmers (up to 25 miles per hour underwater), and can dive for nearly 10 minutes without breathing.

Protecting Marine Wildlife

Tangled and oil-coated

THE THREAT: While sea lions are widespread, all marine mammals face human-caused threats: oil spills, chemical pollutants, entanglement in fishing debris and human harassment.

TAKE ACTION: You can help all sea animals by speaking up against off-shore oil drilling, and doing the right thing with plastic trash. Refuse single-use plastics altogether.

Marine Stories

The Walrus Boys

Have you met Mitik and Pakak yet? Our young male walruses are definitely growing and showing their personalities! They moved here last year as part of a nationwide walrus breeding program, but being only eight years old they’re still in the “teenage” stage. And if you know teenage boys, you know things can get quite … Continued

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He’s a boy! Help name our muskox calf

He head-butted some rocks. He tasted some clover. Then he galloped back down the hillside to mom. Yes, it’s official – our baby muskox calf is a boy, and now his fans get to vote on his name (below). The veterinary and animal care team confirmed the sex last Friday when the calf’s mom Charlotte … Continued

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Aquariums reopening!

It’s time for sharks! And green sea turtles, eagle rays and jellies too. The Pacific Seas Aquarium and South Pacific Aquarium are reopening July 1 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new protocols to keep guests safe and healthy. Oh, and guests will get to meet Bruno the green sea turtle, too. “Our aquarium … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Love our sea lion? Then try to spot our harbor seals! They alternate pools in the Rocky Shores habitat.