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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.
Our keepers give chats daily. Bring your questions and watch them work!
Zookeeper Life: Stephanie

Meet our sea lions

Bjorn
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

Rio & Max, Penguin Buddies

What’s the best way to take your first swim? Well, if you’re a hand-reared penguin chick, you find a penguin buddy. On a hot day in August, penguin chick Rio had his first swim session in a behind-the-scenes pool at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and his buddy was big sister penguin Maxine … Continued

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Animal Athletes

Human athletes might be battling it out for medals at the Olympic Games in Japan this month, but here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have our own incredible athletes to celebrate: our animals! Who can leap the furthest? Climb the highest? Who’s the fastest swimmer, the cleanest diver, the most agile? Check out … Continued

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Double Exposed

Zookeepers and the animals they love What’s the animal you feel most deeply inside? The one you connect with, love, relate to, share traits with? For National Zookeeper Week 2021, we asked our assistant curators that very same question. Then our incredible staff photographer Katie Cotterill took portraits of both keeper AND animal, superimposing them … 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.