The Difference Between Sea Lions and Seals

The great thing about the Blue Lagoon Island is the resources and hands-on experiences it offers to educate the visitors of the island. We have so many people visit every year, and we do hear some of the same questions, so we thought, why not post the answer to the blog to help even more people learn. The Sea Lions of the Blue Lagoon Island are very much adored by our trainers, and doted on immensely from staff and visitors, but it’s surprising to us how little is actually known about the marine mammals by the public, and for good reason.

We know that the difference between a Seal and Sea Lions seems very little (if even at all) for the average person. Before you come and meet our sea lions in person for a Sea Lion Encounter at the Blue Lagoon Island, learn some facts about what makes them unique and different compared to seals.

1. Ears

The most notable difference between Seals and Sea Lions are the types of ears they have. Sea lions have earflaps laying over their ear canal. The Seal has not flap covering their ear canal, leaving it exposed.

2. Foreflippers

Another way to easily identify a sea lion from a seal is by looking at the marine mammal’s foreflippers. If the flippers in the front are short, furry and show long claws, than this is most likely a seal. A seal lion will have long hairless flippers in the front and their hind flippers are able to rotate, which gives them the freedom to walk on land.

3. Whiskers

Whiskers are another trick that marine biologist use to identify a seal or a sea lion. A sea lion will have a cluster of very long, and smooth looking whiskers, and seals will have whiskers that are more of a crinkled look.

4. Swimming Style

If you are in the environment that you are able to observe the marine mammal swimming, than try to pick up on some of the movements. If the animal is using it’s foreflippers by flapping it like a bird would flap it’s wings, than this is a sea lion. If it is swimming by the hind flippers giving the speed and the foreflippers are doing the steering, then it is a seal.

Generally speaking, the seal is overall going to be stubbier and round looking. The Sea Lion has a longer body, neck, flippers (both front and back), and more of a protruding face. To meet one of our sea lions today at the Blue Lagoon Island, call us at 1-800-688-5871.