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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 unscheduled chats daily, to avoid congestion. Bring your questions and watch them work!

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

Zoolights is coming!

Traditional Zoolights returns Nov. 27 – Jan. 3, with health and safety precautions.   Zoolights will return this holiday season to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new safety protocols and the traditional light displays that have lit up the community for the past 32 years. “We are thrilled to continue the longstanding tradition of … Continued

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Celebrating Sea Otters

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is home to three sea otters in the Rocky Shores habitat. Every September, one week is dedicated to bringing awareness to sea otters. Sea otters are endangered, having been hunted nearly to extinction for their thick fur. Now protected, they are still at great risk from oil spill, parasites that … Continued

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Rockfish Recompression

Aquarist John Foster cradled the vermilion rockfish gently in two hands, submersed. Anesthetized, it lay still as veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson took a quick documentary photo of its eyes, which bulged to each side. Then Foster lowered the fish – now fully awake – into a water-filled container that looked something like sci-fi author Jules … 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.