Pinniped Species


California Sea Lion

Other Common Names: California sea lion
Scientific Name: Zalophus californianus
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Otariidae
Genus: Zalophus
Species: californianus
Average Length:

Males – 7.5ft
Females – 6 ft

Average Weight:

Males – 750lbs
Females – 240lbs


California sea lions range from the Pacific coast of Central Mexico north to British Columbia, Canada. Their primary breeding range is from the Channel Islands in Southern California to Central Mexico. There is one stock of California sea lions in U.S. waters that ranges from the U.S./Mexico border and extends to Canada.


California sea lions can vary in color from blonde to dark brown. They also possess very large front flippers and a long narrow snout.

Diet in the Wild:

Squid, anchovies, mackerel, rockfish, and sardines. Sea lions are also known to steal fish from commercial fishing gear, sport-fishing lines, and fish passage facilities.


California sea lions can be found in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in shallow coastal and estuarine waters. They usually prefer sandy beaches for haul out sites but in California they can be found on marina docks as well as jetties and buoys.


The breeding season for California sea lions occurs from May to August.  Females reach sexual maturity at about 4-5 years of age and males at about 2-6 years of age. Most pups are born from May through July. Fourteen days after giving birth, females are ready to mate again.

Conservation Status:

California sea lions are classified as Low Risk-least concern on the IUCN Red List.


Sea Lions

Threats in the Wild:

Incidental catch and entanglement in fishing gear, predators, illness, bio-toxins, gunshot wounds, and other human-caused injuries.

Fun Facts:

California sea lions are very social animals and form groups of several hundred individuals onshore called rookeries.