California sea lions are well adapted for life in the water. Their body is smooth and streamlined. Their torpedo shape lets them swim with little resistance, and their long front flippers propel them through the water with great power---almost as if they were flying. Sea lions have shorter rear flippers for steering, which enable them to make quick, sharp turns. Their nostrils are normally closed to keep out water, and they must foluntarily flex small muscles to open their nostrils to breathe. Like all pinnipeds, sea lions are warm-blooded (just like us!), so they have a thick coat of fur and a heavy layer of fat under their skin to keep them warm in cold water.
Status in the Wild
California sea lions are are sexually dimorphic (2 distinct gender forms); Males are larger and darker and have a crest on the forehead. California sea lions are dark, chestnut brown. They have thick fur and external ear flaps. The weight of their bodies can be supported by front flippers that are large, furless, and without claws.
California sea lions are not threatened in the wild and they are protected by the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended. Their range extends south from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico. There is also a relatively small population in the Galapagos Islands.
Adopt a California Sea Lion
Listed as of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)