California Sea Lion

Scientific: Zalophus californianus
Spanish: León marino de California
Awaswas: Sullan (seal)

Diet: Fish, cephalopods
Habitat: Nearshore, hauling out on rocks and pylons
Status: Least Concern

These social creatures can often be seen congregating near harbors and wharves where they vocalize via “barking.” California sea lions are year-round residents of the Monterey Bay and can be distinguished from the seasonal Steller’s sea lion who are larger, lighter-colored, and whose males lack a bony crest on their skulls.

Seals, sea lions and walruses are all pinnipeds which means “fin-footed.” Sea lions are not considered ‘true seals’ because they have external ear flaps and front flippers that allow them greater dexterity on land than other seals. Here in the Monterey Bay you can see the following pinnipeds throughout the year:

  • California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)
  • Steller’s Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus)
  • Pacific Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)
  • Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris)
  • Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus)