California Sea Lion


Sound Production

  • Sea lions have vocal cords.
  • A California sea lion's primary means of communication is vocalization. Sea lions produce sounds both above and below water.
  • California sea lions are among the most vocal of all mammals. Vocalizations include barks, growls, and grunts.
  • During the breeding season, male California sea lions bark incessantly when establishing territories; once established, the males bark only when maintaining and defending their territories.
  • During periods of nonbreeding, submissive males become more vocal than dominant males.
  • Females use a specific vocalization during the mother-pup recognition sequence. This occurs when a female returns to the rookery after feeding to locate her pup. The female emits a loud trumpeting vocalization, which elicits a bleating response from her pup. This exchange continues until mother and pup find each other. Mother and pup also recognize each other by smell and sight.
  • Females become very aggressive immediately before and after giving birth. Their "threat vocals" progress from a bark to an intense squeal to a more forceful belch and finally to an irregular growl.
  • Pups make a bleating mother-pup recognition call and a high-pitched alarm call. They later develop an adult-like bark.


California Sea Lion

Take a listen to a sea_lion

Display Behavior

  • Sea lions communicate visually, with postural displays.
  • When maintaining breeding territories male sea lions communicate by using a number of postural displays.