Difference Between Seal and Sea Lion

Main Difference

Seal and Sea Lion are both the semi-aquatic mammals which are commonly known as pinnipeds. The word ‘pinnepeds’ is derived from Classical Latin words ‘pinnapes, pinnipes’, which means ‘winged feet’. As mentioned above they are semi aquatic animals, their special types of fins helps them live both on land and water. Seals are the most prominent of pinnepids, and the others to follow are Sea Lions and Walruses. Pinnipeds are further grouped into three families: Odobenidae, Otariidae, and Phocidae. Odobenidae is a family of pinnipeds, whose only living specie is the Walrus. Previoulsy the group possessed diverse species but they extinct. Otariidae is the family of pinnipeds that is commonly known as eared seal and it mainly has animals like Sea Lion and Fur Seals which are mainly characterized by external ear flaps. Phocidae is the family of pinnipeds that is referred as earless seals or true seals. With the given information above we can easily differentiate it between Seal and Sea Lion as Seal belongs to the family Phocidaeand has no external ear flaps, whereas Sea Lion belongs to the family Otariidae and has external ear flaps.

Comparison Chart

SealSea Lion
FamilySeal belongs to the family Phocidae.Sea Lion belongs to the family Otariidae
External Ear FlapsLack external ear flips.Have external ear flips
Use of Flippers for SwimmingSeals use back flippers for power while swimming and use the front flippers for the steering purpose when swimming.Sea Lion use front flippers for power while swimming and use the black flippers for steering while swimming.
Movement on LandSeals crawl on land like caterpillar.Sea Lions can walk or even run on land.

What is Seal?

Seal is the semi-aquatic mammal that hails from phocidae family and lacks external flaps. They are refereed as earless or true seals. The other seal we know as in the pinnipeds group is fur seal, which belongs to the family Otariidae and has external ear flaps. The Seal here being referred is the true seal belonging to phocidae family and it is characterized as due to lack of the external ear flaps. Seals use back flippers while swimming and use the front flippers for the steering purpose when swimming. As they can’t rotate their back flippers they use front flippers to make the movement on land which is generally a caterpillar like movement. Seals have spot and patches on their body which is another of their physical feature differentiating it with other look-alike aquatic animal apart from lacking external ear flaps and having claws and fur on front flippers which help them move on land.

What is Sea Lion?

Seal Lion is the semi-aquatic mammal that hails from Otariidae, which is the family of pinnipeds that is commonly known as eared seal. One of the famous type of seals, fur seals also belongs to the similar group as of the sea lion as it has external ear flaps. Unlike Seals, their rear flippers can also rotate and with them they can even walk or run on the land. That is also one of the reason over which they are preferred over seals for making them participate in circus or other such events. They have large front flippers as compare to the Seals, though they lack claws or fur on it.

Seal vs. Sea Lion

  • Seal belongs to the family Phocidaeand has no external ear flaps, whereas Sea Lion belongs to the family Otariidae and has external ear flaps.
  • Seals use back flippers for power while swimming and use the front flippers for the steering purpose when swimming, whereas Sea Lion use front flippers for power while swimming and use the black flippers for steering while swimming.
  • Seals crawl on land like caterpillar, whereas Sea Lions can walk or even run on land.

Comparison Video

YouTube video
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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