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Seals and sea lions

Galápagos fur seal Seals and sea lions are marine mammals that spend most of their time in the ocean waters, but come out on to land to breed and suckle their young. Their four limbs have developed into flippers and their streamlined bodies help them to move through the water at speed. They are also able to hold their breath for long periods. Seals and sea lions feed on fish, squid, krill and other small sea creatures. Some also eat birds, including penguins, and even the young of other seals.

Sea lions and elephant seals (the much larger animals) lying together on a beach.


The pinniped group consists of the eared seals (all sea lions and the fur seals), true or earless seals (all the other seals) and the walrus. Pinnipeds means “wing-footed”, a good description for these animals, which are clumsy on land but agile and graceful in the water. They are all carnivorous and have four flippers that they use to propel themselves through the water.

The word pinniped comes from the Latin pinna, meaning "wing", and "ped", meaning foot. So it means “winged-feet”.

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