California Sea Lion

Zalophus californianus

Scientific Name

California Sea Lion:  
Zalophus californianus

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

These Sea lions are found from the Pacific Coast of Vancouver all the way to Baja which is where California meets Mexico. They prefer the warmer waters off the coast of California and Mexico for breeding.

Natural Habitat

You’ll find California sea lions in coastal and continental shelf waters, bays, harbors and river mouths. Occasionally they can be found up to several hundred kilometers offshore.

Physical Characteristics

  • Sea lions have large powerful front flippers, a dog-like muzzle that is slightly tapered and long with a blunt end.  A prominent sagittal (forehead bones) crest, creating a high peaked crown, is present in full-grown males.  The coat of the sea lion varies from a dark brown to sandy brown sides to a tan underbelly.  They possess between 34-38 teeth used for grasping and tearing.

Quick Facts

  1. Sea lions can hold their breath for up to ten minutes.

  2. Their swimming speed can reach as fast as 30 miles per hour.

  3. They are very vocal and produce loud barking noises.


Sea Lion Cove

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The California Sea Lion is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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Their main menu is fish, which include hake, opaleye, herring and northern anchovy. Occasionally they may also dine on squid and octopus.