What Is The Difference Between A Seal And A Sea Lion?

Both seals and sea lions belong to the order Carnivora and the suborder Pinnipedia, which includes all types of pinnipeds. While they may share some similarities, such as their blubbery appearance and their love for the ocean, there are key differences that set them apart. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between sea lions and seals to help you better understand these fascinating creatures.


While seals and sea lions have some similarities in their appearance, such as their streamlined bodies and thick layer of blubber, there are distinct differences between them.

  • Seals: streamlined body, shorter snout, smaller front flippers, lack external ear flap
  • Sea lions: larger body, external ear flap, longer snout, larger front flippers

Habitat and Diet

Both animals can be found in many of the same habitats, such as the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Seals and sea lions have some similarities in their habitat and diet, but there are also some differences to note.

  • Seals: found in both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as well as Arctic and Antarctic regions, prefer colder waters, feed on smaller fish like anchovies and sardines
  • Sea lions: found primarily in the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to California and western coast of South America, prefer warmer waters, feed on larger prey like salmon and herring


Both animals spend much of their time in the water and use vocalizations to communicate with each other. While they share some similarities in their behavior, there are also some notable differences.

  • Seals: generally solitary, communicate with grunts and vocalizations, spend more time in water
  • Sea lions: more social, use loud barks to communicate, gather in large groups to sunbathe or play, more active on land


Both Seals and sea lions have some similarities in their reproductive behavior, with both being polygamous and males competing for the right to mate with females, but there are also some differences that differ them.

  • Seals: mate underwater, males compete for access to female, pups are born on land or ice floes and are weaned after a few weeks
  • Sea lions: males compete for the right to mate with females and form harems, pups are born on land and nursed by their mothers for several months


In conclusion, while seals and sea lions may share some similarities, they are distinct marine mammals with unique characteristics and behaviors. By understanding their differences, we can appreciate these fascinating creatures even more and take steps to protect them and their habitats from threats like pollution and overfishing.