What is the difference between a Seal and a Sea Lion?

What is the difference between a Seal (Pusa) and a Sea Lion (Neophoca)?

A Seal and a Sea Lion are both pinnipeds – finned semi-aquatic marine mammals. A Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is also a pinniped. 

A Seal and a Sea Lion both have flattened heads with white whiskers. 

A Seal has short flippers that are thinly webbed with a claw on each small toe, whereas a Sea Lion has large skin-covered flippers.

On land, a Seal wriggles on its belly, whereas a Sea Lion walks on its flippers.

A Seal has no visible ear flaps (external ears), whereas a Sea Lion has visible ear flaps.

Seal (left) and Sea Lion (right)

A Seal is quiet and grunts, whereas a Sea Lion makes a ‘barking’ noise.

A Seal is mostly solitary, but can live in colonies, whereas a Sea Lion lives in large groups of up to 1,500 individuals.

A Seal is smaller than a Sea Lion. A Seal grows to about 130 centimetres (51 inches), whereas a Sea Lion grows to about 180 centimetres (71 inches).

The female Seal and the female Sea Lion give birth to one live young, called a pup. 

Seal (left) and Sea Lion (right)
Caspian Seal 
Australian Sea Lion 
Australian Sea Lion
Caspian Seal 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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