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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 Talk. 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

Chinook
Neah
Matia
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, swimming
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

Lions, Idols and Convicts

Who’s new in the Pacific Seas Aquarium? We may have opened the Pacific Seas Aquarium in September, but we’re still adding animals every week! Swirling golden lion’s mane jellies, yellow-and-black-striped Moorish idol fish, and literally thousands of streaming, schooling, silvery herring. Here’s your sneak peek on who’s new in the aquarium. Lion’s mane jellyfish Cyanea … Continued

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Baja Diving

In clear, blue Baja Bay, three scuba divers are drifting alongside eagle rays and brightly-colored fish. They’re moving slowly, and unlike most divers in tropical waters, they’re not gazing admiringly at the animals around them. Because these divers are aquarists at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and they’re hard at work. “We clean, we … Continued

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The Walrus Ladies

We love walruses – and especially the three walrus ladies of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Joan, Basilla and Kulusiq (or Kulu, for short) each have their own unique physical and personality traits, interacting with their keepers in their own special ways. For Walrus Awareness Week (Dec. 2-8), we’re celebrating our three lovely Pacific walruses. … Continued

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