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California sea lion

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The California sea lion is playful, curious and an excellent athlete of the water.  Capable of swimming at high speeds, they can communicate with one another when underwater by sounds produced using air retained in their lungs.

Sea lions are adapted for movement on land as well as in the water. Their front flippers have a bone structure similar to that in our arms and hands. Swimming with these flippers propels the sea lion forward, while the hind flippers steer, a bit like a rudder on a boat. They use both sets of flippers to walk, but are less at home on dry land.

During breeding season in July, males claim territories that they guard and defend against other males. There can be as many as 16 females to 1 male in these territories and competition is fierce!

Conservation status | Least concern

Fact Sheet

Scientific name

Zalophus californianus






10 to 15 years in the wild, 20 to 25 years in captivity

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