Galapagos Sea Lion: 19 Facts You Won't Believe!

Read about some very interesting Galapagos sea lion facts here

Ever go to the beach on a sunny day and come across sea lion pups sunbathing on the sandy shores? Well, if you happen to be around Galapagos islands, what you might be witnessing could be the majestic sea lion, Zalophus wollebaeki! This creature is famously known as the Galapagos sea lion. These creatures happen to be robust mammals and are seen relaxing on beaches along with other sea lions often taking care of their pups. They are magnificent and generally large. They are very friendly and curious when it comes to humans. They love to interact and roll in the sand, which is the cutest sight to see. Sea lion pups are adorable. Often they cling to their mother and wait on the shore while their mother is hunting for food in the sea. Galapagos sea lions are the smallest species of sea lions!

If you like reading animal facts, be sure to check out whale shark facts, or Bowhead whale facts.

Galapagos Sea Lion

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Sardine, Octopus, crustaceans, squid

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

110-551 lb (50-250 kg)

How long are they?

5.91-9.84 in (150-250 mm)

How tall are they?

60-100 in (1.50-2.50 m)

What do they look like?

Brown-grey fur, smooth and sleek

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Sharks, killer whales, and humans

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Saltwater, Marine


South America, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador





Scientific Name

Zalophus wollebaeki





Sea Lion Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Galapagos sea lion?

Galapagos sea lions are a species of fur seals that typically breed on the Galapagos Islands and also in small numbers around Isla De La Plata. These animals are social and playful in nature, often considered as the welcome party of Galapagos islands!  The biggest distinction amongst this species of sea lions can be perceived in their size when compared with their other relatives. It is necessary to keep in mind that although social in nature, sea lions are wild animals, if they are not given the space and privacy they need, male sea lions can get a bit aggressive and bite people.

What class of animal does a Galapagos sea lion belong to?

This species comes from the Otariidae family and is of the Mammalia class like other fur seals. This wild animal is one of the only six mammal species found along the Galapagos Islands.

How many Galapagos sea lions are there in the world?

The population of Galapagos sea lions around the world is approximately 50,000.

Where does a Galapagos sea lion live?

Sea lions are found at the Galapagos Islands and Isla de la Plata near the shores of Ecuador. When you arrive at this island, the first sight you see will be the sea lion Galapagos relaxing and playing with each other on the beach!

What is a Galapagos sea lion's habitat?

Found in the pacific ocean, Galapagos lions' habitat consists of marine or saltwater. They spend most of their time during the day going in the water to hunt and swim around and return to the higher level of the beach at night. They absolutely love sand.

Who does the Galapagos sea lion live with?

Galapagos sea lions often live together with around 30 other sea lions. On islands, they gather into harems which consists of females and one dominant male, or into bachelor colonies (which consists of males only). Unlike in bachelor colonies, the bull defends harems ensuring that other bulls don't come near. They often get into territorial fights. Defending often wears down the bull, and another dominant male might take over the harem.

How long does a Galapagos sea lion live?

Sea lions mature at the age of four to five years. The Galapagos sea lion's life span is 15-24 years. The average sea lion's age expectancy is 20 years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating season of Galapagos sea lions occurs usually from May to January. Female sea lion matures around five years, they are sexually receptive once a year. Whereas males may wait until they are older. Galapagos sea lions practice polygamy. After mating, the female sea lion carries a single pup for 11 months. The sea lion pups nurse on the mother (cow) for about a year, however after a week, the mother returns to hunt for food in the water continues nursing after.  The cow and their pups recognize each other by their unique barks.

What is their conservation status?

The Galapagos sea lion's Endangered status is one of the reasons why they are being heavily protected as there are only 50,000 of them. The El Nino event has proven to be a threat. On islands, it is ensured year-round that Galapagos sea lions are unbothered. Sea lions are at risk due to marine plastic pollution too. It has been observed that local dogs have been transmitting diseases to sea lion colonies.

Galapagos Sea Lion Fun Facts

What does the Galapagos sea lion look like?

Sea lions can be easily identified, male sea lions have dark grey fur and a bump on their head. They are four times larger than female sea lions. They have thick necks and shoulders. They have a fairly large chest as compared to females. Females on the other hand tend to have brownish fur. Female sea lions are characterized by long necks and wider upper bodies in comparison with the rest of their bodies. Their canines are not as strong as male sea lions. Female sea lions have flat heads. The sea lion pup has a chestnut brown body. Their flippers allow them to move around on land. You can also see them galloping around the shore.

Read about some interesting Galapagos sea lion facts here

How cute are they?

Galapagos sea lions' presence is very warm and welcoming! Often the offspring can be found playing, napping with other pups. It is quite a sight to see! They are also very interactive and very tempting to play with. Their tiny snouts add to how endearing they are! They are much cuter than any other species of sea lion.

How do they communicate?

Galapagos sea lions bark to communicate. Their barks are quite similar to dogs! They bark in long, repetitive sequences. Females don't exhibit similar behavior. However, their pups do growl. The mother can identify its pup's bark amongst 30 other sea lions! Male sea lions are aggressive and patrol their territories to ward off intruders. Often the dominant males will patrol beaches with female sea lions, as long as they keep other male sea lions at bay, they can mate with females.

How big is a Galapagos sea lion?

Galapagos sea lions are huge! They can weigh up to 550 lb (250 kg). Galapagos sea lion size in matters of length falls in the range of five to nine in. Thus making them one of the largest animals found on these islands.  They still happen to be four times smaller than an adult walrus.

How fast can a Galapagos sea lion swim?

These creatures swim really fast for short periods of time at 25 mph (40 kph), however they swim around on average at 11 mph (17 kph).  The Galapagos sea lion adaptations of a smooth, streamlined body help them swim efficiently in the ocean. They can dive almost 1970 ft (600 m) and can stay underwater for ten minutes.  

How much does a Galapagos sea lion weigh?

Galapagos sea lion diet which mainly consists of sardines has a major impact on their weight. They weigh on average between 110-550 lb (50-250 kg). The bull (male) can weigh up to 550 lb (250 kg). Cows (female) weigh less than males.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male Galapagos sea lions are known as bulls and female Galapagos sea lions are known as cows.

What would you call a baby Galapagos sea lion?

The baby Galapagos sea lion is known as a pup.

What do they eat?

These animals feed primarily on sardines which they hunt in the ocean. They may also feed on octopuses, squid, and crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

Galapagos seal lions are social and playful in nature but though they are sociable, they aren't as friendly as other playful animals like bulldogs. The bulls are territorial and aggressive. They may chase swimmers if they get in their way and also bite people if they are bothered. Females and their pups are extremely friendly. They love socializing, they enjoy swimming with people who are snorkeling. The pups are really adorable and inquisitive. They are wild animals, so it's better to maintain a safe distance and their behavior is unpredictable. Along the islands of the Galapagos, humans are forbidden to touch them. They are expected to have at least 2-6 m (6.6-20 ft) of distance from this species.  This is to ensure the safety of both humans as well as sea lions.  

Would they make a good pet?

No. These are wild animals. They cannot be domesticated. Their endangered status has causes people to be extra careful with this species.

Did you know...

This species plays a major role when in influencing the travel and tourism of the Galapagos.

Like Galapagos sea lions, there also happens to be a Galapagos fur seal which has also become quite an attraction!

These animals are predators and hunt and consume fishes, which in turn maintains a balance in the animal food chain and helps the ecosystem. This has made these animals quite important.

Why is it called a sea lion?  

The name is because of their furry mane and ability to bark and growl. This species can also be vicious and aggressive similar to a lion, hence the name.

Does the Galapagos sea lion have teeth?

Yes. All sea lions have teeth, depending on the species, they have about 34-38 teeth. Male canines are stronger as compared to female canines.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these dolphin facts and bear facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable grey seal coloring pages.



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