Sea lions and seals live with dolphins and otters as sea lovers attracting people to beaches and aquariums. But after a thorough inspection, you may know the difference between sea lion vs seal. However, the differences are not very notable, but a good comparison between sea lion vs seal will show you the apparent differences.

What are the differences between Seal and Sea lions
Photographer : Zdeněk Macháček

Let’s have a look at the major differences between seal lion vs seal,

Sea Lion vs Seal

Flipper Length

There is a big difference in the length of the flippers. Sea lions and seals have long fins. The most important thing is that they can rotate their back flippers under their bodies, allowing them to walk to the land. On the other hand, seals have short front flippers, and rear flippers cannot turn under their bodies to let them walk. Variations in the length of the flipper style also change the way these marine mammals swim.


Sea lions gather regularly in groups, called colonies or rafts. Depending on the species, you can find sea lion rafts to enjoy the sun in small groups or in large groups that number in the thousands. In return, seals spend more time in the water and are less likely to be in a group. They meet at the beach once a year to mate.  

Seal vs Sea Lions
Baby Seal smiling
Photographer : Amy Asher


Seals have a stubby and small flipper foot covered with a thin webbing layer. When comparing sea lion vs seal feet, you will notice some significant differences. Their little toes have a small paw. Sea lions have more elegant and much longer looking fins and are often covered with the skin.


Sea lions are very noisy. They love to bark, scream, and growl. Seals are quieter, usually voicing speak loudly in the ears and growling softer grunts and moans. This is because they gather in groups on the ground, while real seals spend more time in the water and are less social. Also, lions and sea seals communicate by high bark or high extrusion, while seals generally grunt gently to communicate.


Sea lions have small fins for their ears. Seals do not have external ears, only small holes on each side of the head. Sea lions have external ears that bulge from their heads. The seals, on the other hand, have no external flap, but rather have earholes. This is why scientists describe species of the Otariidae family as eared seals. The species of Phocidae can be called seals without ears.

Differences between seal and sea lions
Sea lion posing in the sun
Photographer : Charlie Seaman


Sea lions can walk on the ground by the rotation of hind flippers forward and under their bodies, helping them to stand on all four feet. While seals do not have a special flap joint, so they are limited to cater pillaring or belly-flopping around.


Both types of animals spend time in water and on land while the seals are habitant of life in the water. Although their bodies may seem chubby, seals are smaller and more dynamic as compared to sea lions.  

On the other hand, sea lions can walk on the land by the rotation of hind flippers forward and under their massive bodies. That’s why they are more likely to work in marine and aquariums shows.

Considering these sea lions vs seal differences, you will be able to recognize them easily.

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