There are many different mammals found in our seas around the world, but what is the difference between a sea lion vs walrus? You may know how both of these species appear, but are there many differences between their diets, life spans, and preferred habitat or geographical locations?
In this article, we will address all of the differences between sea lions and walruses, including their behavior and differing appearance. You should have no trouble identifying these creatures in the wild, as well as knowing all of the ways that they differ from one another. Let’s get started and dive in!
Comparing Sea Lion vs Walrus
|5-10 feet long; 500-2,000 pounds
|7-12 feet long; 800-4,000 pounds
|Soft fur ranging in color from cream to dark brown or black; long necks and powerful front flippers
|Large tusks and whiskered face; gray or brown skin that turns pink
|Location and Habitat
|Found worldwide except the Atlantic ocean
|Many different locations, but primarily the Arctic Circle
Key Differences Between Sea Lion vs Walrus
There are many key differences between a sea lion vs walrus. Sea lions are members of the Otariidae family, while walruses are members of the Odobenus family. Walruses also grow much larger than sea lions in general, almost double the size when compared to the average sea lion. Finally, sea lions do not have tusks, while this is what walruses are well known for.
Let’s talk more about all of these differences in Greater detail now.
Sea Lion vs Walrus: Family and Scientific Classification
A primary difference between sea lions and walruses is their family or scientific classifications. Sea lions are members of the Otariidae family while walruses are members of the Odobenus family, making them extremely different species. Let’s talk more about their individual classifications now.
There are currently 13 different Otariidae species, including sea lions. Their species translates to little ear, which is precious when you consider the ears of a sea lion. Walruses have two different subspecies, with far fewer species overall.
Sea Lion vs Walrus: Physical Appearance and Size
You can tell the differences between a sea lion vs walrus based on their physical appearance and size. For example, the average sea lion reaches anywhere from 5-10 feet long and weighs 500-2,000 pounds, while walruses grow much larger. The average wild walrus grows anywhere from 7-12 feet long and 800-4,000 pounds, depending.
You can also recognize a walrus based on their tusks, impressive whiskers, and wrinkly skin. While both sea lions and walruses can be the same brown shade, sea lions are covered in short brown fur. They also do not have tusks, and their front flippers have claws, making them much more capable on land when compared to walruses.
Walruses have coarse hair scattered throughout their bodies, but it is not nearly the same as the coat of a sea lion. You will notice that walruses turn pink in the sun given their skin being their main form of protection from the elements, while sea lions maintain their brown shades.
Sea Lion vs Walrus: Behavior and Diet
Another difference between sea lions and walruses is their behavior and dietary preferences. Both sea lions and walruses live in oceanic environments, coming to shore to rest and recoup, but their diets vary. For example, sea lions eat fish, crab, and squid, while walruses eat clams, snails, and worms. This is because walruses can sense their prey using their whiskers, while sea lions catch fish and other animals in the sea using their capable bodies.
Many behavioral differences between sea lions and walruses exist, but there are many similarities. While both sea lions and walruses are considered extremely vocal individuals, sea lions form large groups of other sea lions for protection and breeding purposes, while walruses often have to divide their family groups so that they don’t run out of food in one particular ecosystem.
Sea Lion vs Walrus: Preferred Habitat and Geographic Location
While both sea lions and walruses enjoy living in a variety of oceans, there are some differences between their preferred habitats and geographic locations. Sea lions avoid the Atlantic Ocean, while walruses are found throughout the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The Arctic Circle is where many walruses are found, as they travel there year after year to breed and live.
Many different sea lion species enjoy living around human beings, though walruses prefer to avoid humans as a whole. Sea lions also live in much more tropical locations when compared to walruses, including the Galapagos and South American coastlines. Walruses prefer colder climates as a whole when compared to sea lions.
Sea Lion vs Walrus: Lifespan
A final difference between a sea lion vs walrus has to do with their life span. While both of these animals are capable of living longer lives when kept in captivity rather than in the wild, walruses far outlive sea lions as a whole.
The average walrus lives anywhere from 30 to 50 years, while sea lions live an average of 15 to 20 years. This is likely due to their size differences, as walruses have very few natural predators in the wild. Sea lions are frequently eaten by orcas and other large sea creatures such as sharks. Given that the walrus is one of the largest animals in the ocean, very few creatures choose to mess with them.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/pilipenkoD
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