Difference Between Seals And Sea Lions
By Claire Miles - November 1, 2021

Despite some similarities in their appearances, seals and sea lions are completely different animals. Both comprise the taxonomical suborder of pinnipeds, which includes seals, sea lions, and walruses, but they constitute different taxonomical families – sea lions are part of the family Otariidae while seals are members of the family Phocidae.

Table Summary

SealSea Lion
Short front flippersLong flippers
Earhole without flapEar with flaps
FurNo fur

Getty Images / Moment / David Martin


Sea lions have external ears that protrude from their heads, as well as long flippers. They are also able to rotate their back flippers under their bodies to walk on land. Besides, sea lions are noisy animals that communicate through barking or bellowing.

Seals have no external ear flap, only ear holes – which is why true seals are also called “earless seals”. Unlike sea lions, their flippers are short, so whenever they are on land they have to flop around on their bellies. They are also a lot quieter than sea lions, softly grunting to communicate with others.

Seal VS Sea Lion

There are a few physical differences between seals and sea lions: while seals only have ear holes, sea lions have protruding ear flaps; seals have short flippers while sea lions have long flippers that allow them to walk on land; and seals have fur, unlike sea lions.