California Sea Lion

California Sea Lion


Sea lions live in groups called harems, which consist of a dominant male, or bull, in charge of a group of cows, or females. On shore, these highly social animals prefer to be close and often lay packed together in colonies. In the water, a group may rest together at the surface in a “raft.” During the breeding season, a sea lion bull establishes a territory and patrols its boundaries. Females give birth and rear their young while ashore.


California sea lions eat mostly fish, squid, and octopus.

Life Cycle

Females usually give birth to one pup each year. The precocious newborns weigh about 13 pounds and can clamber about within 30 minutes. When they’re around three weeks old, pups gather and play in groups of up to 200. Sea lions reach adult size by nine years of age. They can live into their thirties.

Some of My Neighbors

Steller Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Northern Elephant Seals, Northern Fur Seals, Gulls, Orcas, Great White Sharks

Population Status & Threats

Today, the population of California sea lions on the North American coast is relatively healthy, though extensive hunting for skin and oil in the nineteenth century decimated their numbers. Protections in the twentieth century allowed the sea lion to rebound: Since the species’ 1972 listing under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the population has quadrupled to an estimated 300,000. The sea lion subspecies that lives in the Galapagos, however, is considered Vulnerable.

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