California Sea Lions

You’ll know you’re getting close to the sea lions in our care by the energy in the air. Sea lions are extremely social — and vocal! They often cluster in large groups of tens to hundreds of sea lions when hauled out on shorelines, piers, or jetties. In water, they form smaller groups called “rafts.” Their long front flippers are perfectly suited for swimming. On land, sea lions tuck their hind flippers beneath their body and use all four flippers to “walk” around.

Sea lions and seals are often confused, but here’s a clue you won’t forget. Sea lions have visible ear flaps — seals have only holes. Listen to the chorus of sea lion calls and you’ll easily remember it’s the ears that set them apart.

Visit Pacific Point Preserve to experience sea lions up-close, and even take the opportunity to feed them. Plus, learn about how we care for both our sea lions and our otters in the Sea Lion and Otters Up-Close Tour!

Q: Where do they live?
SW: California sea lions aren’t just found in California! They live all along the Pacific coast of North America, from southern British Columbia to central Mexico and into the Gulf of California, Mexico.

Q: What do they eat?
SW: A variety of fishes, squids and octopuses.

Q: How big do they get?
SW: Adult males reach lengths of 6.5 to 8 ft. (2 - 2.5 m), while females are 5 to 6.5 ft. (1.5 - 2 m) in length.

For a sea lion, Cha Cha’s a real ham. She originally took her moves from her mom, Coffee, but has been creating her own distinctive repertoire.

Like her “Game Face,” a smile that looks like a funny snarl. And her signature move, “The Noisy Smile” which is her “Game Face” with accompanying vocal.

Lately Cha Cha’s been touching her front and rear flippers at the same time while doing the “Noisy Smile” underwater. Now that’s talent!