Difference Between Seal and Sea Lion

In all water bodies, there are millions of species found. Various aquatic animals and plants are found under oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, and ponds.


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Out of millions of species, the two most exciting species are seals and sea lions, both of which are marine members.

Also, they are known as ‘pinnipeds’ since they differ in adaptations and characteristics. Both of them look alike, but there is a vast difference between them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Seals have short, stubby flippers, hind flippers that do not rotate, and a more streamlined body, while sea lions have longer, more pronounced flippers, rotating hind flippers, and a less streamlined body.
  2. Sea lions possess external ear flaps, whereas seals have internal ears without visible external structures.
  3. Seals are generally more adapted to spending time in the water, while sea lions are more agile on land due to their flipper and body structure.

Seal vs Sea Lion

The difference between Seal and Sea Lion is that Seals along walruses are known as pinnipeds, meaning “fin-footed” in Language Latin. Seals do have front feet stubby and thinly flippers webbed. Also, they have claws with tiny toes. At the same time, sea lions do have outer ears with small flaps.

Seal vs Sea Lion

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In seals, there are small holes near sleek heads. Sea lions are pretty noisy compared to seals but are quiet and vocal.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonSealsSea Lions
EarsSeals are earlessSea lions do have big outer ears with flap
MovementSeals move like caterpillarsSea lions use hind legs for walking.
AncestorsWeasel like AncestorTerrestrial bears, like Ancestors
LimbsHind flippers are behind the body directlyHind flippers are longer behind the body
SoundSeals do have soft soundsSea lions make barks.


What is Seal?

Seals are mammals that breathe in air and are known to be warm-blooded. Seals can be found near the sea or in the sea. It is one of the species out of many such as common seals, fur seals and sea lions.

Since seals can survive in or out of the sea, they are also known as semi-aquatic mammals. It belongs to a category known to be Pinnipedia since it has four flippers.

The category it belongs to contains three other groups: eared seals(sea lions and fur seals), true or earless seals( common seals) and walruses.\

 A theory says that seals have evolved from land-based ancestors such as bears or otters. Seals have 33 kinds of species. Seals are found in locations such as tropical places, the Antarctic and the Arctic.

Seals have a particular fat layer that is known as blubber. It keeps seals warm when they are in cold water. And the slick fur coat covering helps them glide through the water.


What is Sea Lion?

Sea Lions are another aquatic mammal that belongs to the category Pinnipedia. Sea lions and other mammals called fur seals belong to the Otariidae family, which is known as eared seals.

Sea lions have seven species in total, and those species are known as the Japanese Sea Lion, South America Sealion, New Zealand Sea Lion, Galapagos Sea Lion, Australian Sea Lion, Steller Sea Lion, and California Sea Lion.

Sea lions are aquatic mammals with long torpedo-shaped bodies that let them adapt to gliding in water.Sea lions can quickly move water. Sea Lions have good eyesight, and nearsighted.Sea Lions can see much better in water than on land.

Sea Lions stay in big colonies, and they all remain close together on both land and water. Within large colonies, they have sub-colonies.

Sea lions are swimmers, and they can cover speeds of 25 miles for every hour. Also, they are capable of swimming 10 miles each hour, and they can increase their speed when they are threatened.

Sea Lion

Main Differences Between Seal and Sea Lion

  1. One of the main differences between Sea Lions and Seals is that sea lions do have big ear flaps whereas seals have only ear holes.
  2. Sea lions can easily walk since they have long hairless fore flippers, whereas sea lions need to walk like a caterpillar since they have short and hairy fore flippers with long claws.
  3. Seals do need to wiggle on their belly to do movement, and they need to keep hind flippers straight. But sea lions can use their fore flippers like the wings of a bird.
  4. Sea lions have long and smooth whiskers, whereas seals have beaded and crimped whiskers.
  5. Sea lions are quite noisy since they live in colonies, whereas seals mostly live in water. Also, sea lions bark below to communicate with each other, and seals communicate with soft voices.
  6. Sea lions have particular rotating hip bones that allow them to tuck to the flippers they have at the rear. Also, it supports the body weight on four flippers. Whereas seals do not have such bone, and their movement is quite different from that of sea lions. They need to shift their weight while moving to and fro; also, many times, they roll to their destination.
  7. Sea lions are of dark chestnut brown colour whereas seals are of brownish-black colour and white and grey colour. Seals can be categorized as grey and harbour seals if we discuss the colour. Also, seals are known to be the cousin of sea lions.
Difference Between Seal and Sea Lion
  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-antiquity/article/prehistoric-seal-and-sealion-butchering-on-the-southern-northwest-coast/5382BB5CC3C9B05A13DD1DDF7610F65B
  2. https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1986.tb03581.x
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