Sea lions are a type of pinniped characterized by their external ear flaps, long foreflippers, the ability to move on all fours, short and thick fur, and a substantial chest and belly. They belong to the family Otariidae, also known as eared seals, alongside fur seals.
Within the family Otariidae, there are six existing species of sea lions and one extinct species, the Japanese sea lion, categorized into five genera. Their habitat ranges from subarctic to tropical waters in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the exception of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Sea lions typically have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
Male California sea lions, for instance, weigh around 300 kg on average and measure approximately 2.4 meters in length. In contrast, female sea lions weigh about 100 kg and are around 1.8 meters long. The largest sea lions are Steller’s sea lions, which can weigh up to 1,000 kg and reach lengths of 3.0 meters.
These animals have a voracious appetite and are known to consume a substantial amount of food, equivalent to about 5–8% of their body weight, which is roughly 6.8–15.9 kg, during a single feeding.
In the water, sea lions are capable of swimming at speeds of up to 16 knots (30 km/h), and at their fastest, they can reach speeds of about 30 knots (56 km/h). Unfortunately, three species of sea lions, namely the Australian sea lion, the Galápagos sea lion, and the New Zealand sea lion, are currently listed as endangered.