Seals are carnivores that are in the Pinnipedia group – the word pinniped translates from Latin to mean “fin-footed”.1 This Pinnipedia group is divided into three groups:1&2

  • Odobenidae, which is made up of walruses

  • Otariidae, which consists of fur seals and sea lions. These are “eared seals”, which means they have visible ears.

  • Phocidae, which are the “earless seals” and consist of true seals. These seals have ears, but no flaps to make them visible, thus they’re considered earless seals.

Members of the Otariidae group are able to walk on their flippers while they’re on land, while members of the Phocidae group flop on their stomachs to get around.2

These animals are carnivores and live around 30 years. They tend to hang out in colder environments.1&3  Usually their diet consists of fish, but some seals may go after penguins, shellfish, or other seals.1

Seals face many threats – including hunting from humans for their fur, not enough food, getting caught in fishing gear, and melting ice from climate change.1&3 For example, ringed seals need ice, and when the ice melts, it can cause pups to get separated from their mothers before they’re able to fend for themselves.3

According to NOAA, all seals and sea lions have protections under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Some also have protections under the ESA.2

Do you have any other questions about carnivores? Let us know and we’ll be sure to cover them in a future email!

All the best,

Chris & the WERC Team