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What should I know about fur seals and sea lions?

There are 14 species of fur seals and sea lions.  Fur seals and sea lions have ears that extend from the skull.  The front flippers of fur seals and sea lions are used to propel them thru the water.  The front flippers are long and paddle-like, more than 1/4 of the length of the body.  Fur seals and sea lions can use their front and rear flippers to walk on the land.

Fur seals and sea lions are found throughout the world. The heaviest concentrations are found in the north Pacific, along the North and South American Pacific coasts, Australia and New Zealand and various islands. 

But how do we distinguish between fur seals and sea lions? Well, sea lions have a rounded snout and their fur is courser and shorter than a fur seal.  Sea lions are also the larger of the two.  Fur seals on the other hand have a longer, pointer snout, their fur is longer and finer, and their flippers are longer. 

So, we can classify them into two groups:

Sea Lions

Sea lions are large pinnipeds and the males tend to be much larger than the females.  They have a coarse fur, which is more prominent than the underfur.  They gather in large herds at mating time.  The males will aggressively defend their territories and harems.  Their rear flippers can be faced forward to move on land.  Their flippers are bare and the claws are small.

Click on one of the sea lion species to view information about them!

Fur Seals

Fur seal males can be more than five times heavier than the females.  The fur seals are covered with a dense layer of fur, intermixing in the dense fur are coarse guard hairs that are molted once a year. They gather in large herds at mating time.  The males will aggressively defend their territories and harems.  Their rear flippers can be faced forward to move on land.  Their flippers are bare and the claws are small.

Click on one of the fur seal species to view information on it!

  • Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus)
  • Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi)
  • Juan Fernandez fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii)
  • Galapagos fur seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis)
  • South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis)
  • New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri)
  • Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella)
  • Subantarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis)
  • South African fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus)


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