Steller Sea Lion

Eumetopias jubatus
Family: Otariidae
Steller sea lion

Photo © Lauri Jemison, ADFG, NMFS Permit 358-1564

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sea lion range map

Distribution/Migration: North Pacific only. In eastern North Pacific, range from southern California north through Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Aleutians. Seasonal movements common, migration unknown. Pink shows summer range, purple shows year-round range.


This web page is modified from the book Marine Mammals of Alaska by Kate Wynne, illustrated by Pieter Folkens, available at the Alaska Sea Grant Bookstore.

Marine Mammal Guide

SIZE: Average adult male 9 ft (2.7 m), 1500 lbs. Average adult female 7 ft (2.1 m), 600 lbs. At birth 3 ft (1 m), 45 lbs.

BODY: Robust body; males develop a thickened neck and mane with age. Broad head, bulging eyes, squared snout, and obvious pinnae.

COLOR: Dark brown at birth. Adult body light brown to blond with dark brown undersides and flippers. Appear tan in water.

BEHAVIOR: Gregarious. Gather on haulouts and rookeries. Generally aggressive. Vocalizations are grumbles, growls, and roars but they do not bark. May dive to 600 ft (180 m).

HABITAT: Primarily coastal. Use secluded rocky islands for haulouts and rookeries.

FOOD HABITS: Opportunistic. Eat fish, squid, and shrimp. Males fast while holding territories.

LIFE HISTORY: Sexually mature at 3–7 yrs. Females breed with dominant males that establish and defend territories up to 60 days. Single pup per yr born in May–July after gestation of 11.5 mos. Lactation lasts 1–3 yrs. Female leaves pup on shore during extended foraging bouts. Females may live 30 yrs. Molting takes place July–November.

STATUS AND HUMAN INTERACTIONS: Estimated 120,000–140,000 worldwide, approx 93,000 in Alaska. Endangered but stable w. of 144°W longitude; Threatened and increasing eastward. Alaska Natives harvest <200/yr for meat and fur. Interactions with commercial fisheries, climate change, marine debris entanglement, and predation by orcas are potential threats.