Do Sea Lions Eat Seals? – Let’s Find Out

do sea lions eat seals

Sea lions are predatory animals that feed primarily on a diet of fish, squid, octopuses, krill, and other small prey.

They can be found in coastal waters all around the globe and are part of the ‘pinniped’ family. Sea lions, along with seals and walruses are pinnipeds, meaning they are carnivorous aquatic mammals of the order Pinnipedia.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at what sea lions eat, and more specifically answer do sea lions eat seals?

Yes, Steller sea lions do sometimes eat seals. Occasionally this species of sea lion has been known to eat fur seals, harbor seals, and sea otter pups.

Will Sea Lions Eat Seals?

Steller sea lions are HUGE, they are the biggest species of sea lion in the world and can grow up to 11-feet long and weigh a whopping 2,500lbs!

They are loud, boisterous sea lions that primarily feed on a variety of fishes including mackerel, herring, and salmon, but they do occasionally eat seal pups.

All sea lions are carnivores that eat a variety of different foods, they are generally opportunistic hunters that will eat anything they can get their flippers on.

Fur seals are much smaller than a fully grown Steller sea lion, so when one presents itself that may be sick, injured, or vulnerable, these sea lions won’t pass up on the chance of an easy meal.

Are Sea Lions Bigger Than Seals?

Fur seals usually grow to around 1.2 – 1.8 meters and weigh around 55kg, making them much smaller than the giant Stellar sea lions.

In general, most species of sea lion are bigger than seals, they have larger bodies and have the ability to walk across land.

Seals typically have smaller, chubbier bodies which make them aerodynamic whilst swimming in the water, and although they have smaller fins they are usually better swimmers.

Sea lions are also more aggressive than seals, and will not hesitate to bite if they feel intimidated or threatened.

There is one species of seal that is more aggressive and larger than most sea lions, the Leopard seal.

This seal is commonly found in the icy Antarctic waters and is a large predator that hunts, kills, and eats other warm-blooded mammals.

Leopard seals are usually between 2.9 – 3.6 meters in length and are armed with a set of razor-sharp teeth.

They feed on penguins, fish and have even been known to kill humans. Leopard seals are incredibly dangerous and they too will feed on other smaller seals if given the chance.

Leopard seals hunt by using the element of surprise, hiding beneath the surface or behind ice-caps before striking and catching their prey off guard.

They are formidable hunters that are the dominant apex predators in their habitat, making them far deadlier than even Stellar sea lions.

What Do Sea Lions Eat?

Sea lions are carnivores that eat a varied diet of squid, krill, cephalopods, clams, and more. They are opportunistic feeders that take whatever they can find.

They are intelligent animals that rely on their agile swimming in order to catch prey. The California sea lion is the most predominant species of sea lion on the west coast of America.

These sea lions are known to eat more than 50 species of fish and are among the top predators in the waters they inhabit.

They eat a range of different species of fish, from large to small. But they will even utilize the massive runs of salmon that happen each year as a food source.

Here is a list of some of the most common and favorite food sources of a sea lion:

  • Octopus
  • Squid
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Krill
  • Hake
  • Anchovies
  • Crabs
  • Clams

Final Thoughts

Now that we know the answer to do sea lions eat seals, it’s important to note that this is a very rare occurrence and not something that happens often.

Most sea lions are able to make use of their abundant surroundings and can expend less energy on eating fish, cephalopods, and other food rather than killing a seal.

They are only usually eaten if wounded or sick, and not something that is largely a part of most sea lions’ diets.

Steller sea lions are the largest of the sea lion family, whilst fur seals are some of the smallest of seals, they often inhabit the same waters and therefore do come across each other from time to time.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something new today and learned why some species of sea lion eat seals every once in a while.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others that may find it valuable.

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