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Difference between Seal and Sea Lion

Seal and sea lion both are fin-footed animals that belong to the same suborder Pinnipedia, so also known as pinnipedi. Both are warm-blooded animals capable of living on both land and water. Despite these similarities, they are different from each other in terms of body shape, size and behaviour. Let us see how a seal differs from a sea lion!

Seal:

Seal is a member of the Phocidae family. It is classified as earless pinnipeds and is closely related to sea lion and walrus. As per the classification of Pinnipeds, there are two types of seals: fur seals and true seals. Fur seals are eared seals and belong to family Otariidae. So, unlike fur seals and sea lions, the true seals lack the external ears. They can be found in both marine and freshwater environments.

Seals have front and hind flippers. The front flippers, which are short, furry and stubby in appearance, help move on land. The hind flippers, which are furred and face backward, are used for swimming. The other characteristic feature of seals is the presence of spots, patches or rings on their body. Seals are quieter and make soft grunt to communicate.

Sea Lion:

Sea lion is a member of the Otariidae family. It is classified as eared pennipeds. It is found all over the world, from subarctic water to warmer tropical waters. They are more active on land than seals but cannot swim long distances as seals. The characteristic feature of sea lions is small external ears.

They have front and hind flippers that enable them to walk on the land. Their front flippers are larger than the front flipper of seals. The thrust to swim is mainly generated by the forelimb movement, whereas the hind limbs are used for steering. Sea lions are generally brown or tan in colour, have four teats and lack patches or spots on their body. They are only found in marine environments. Furthermore, sea lions are much more vocal than seals and able to make a wide range of loud noises.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between a seal and sea lion are as follows:

Seal Sea lion
Seal belongs to Phocidae family. It is classified as earless pinnipeds. Sea lion belongs to Otariidae family. It is classified as eared pinnipeds.
Seals lack external ears. Sea lions have visible external ears.
They use their hind flippers for swimming. They use their forelimbs for swimming.
They use front flippers to move on the land. They use hind flippers to move on the land.
They generally have spots on their body. They do not have spots or patches on their body.
Their front flippers are smaller than those of sea lions. Their front flippers are larger than those of seals.
They are quieter, make soft grunts to communicate. They are noisy, make loud noises.
They cannot rotate their hind flippers under their body in order to walk, so they wriggle on their bellies. They are able to rotate their hind flippers under their body in order to walk on the land.
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