The two largest marine mammals at the Aquarium live together in this sprawling exhibit containing up to 90,000 gallons of sea water. Our seals and sea lions exhibit is as deep as fifteen feet in some areas, allowing the animals to dive, twist, twirl and leap as they would in the wild. There are multiple view stations along its length, giving our guests the opportunity to enjoy these amazing animals in a more intimate setting. The Sea Lions particularly enjoy these interactions with human beings, often swimming right up to the acrylic barriers for a closer look.
The newly remodeled Pinniped Exhibit is open! The project doubled the amount of linear viewing feet and now accommodates over 100 additional spectators. Make sure you attend a feeding presentation at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. or stop by any time to welcome the Aquarium’s pinnipeds to their new home.
Who’s a Sea Lion? Who’s a Harbor Seal?
Known collectively as pinnipeds, Sea Lions and Harbor Seals can look very similar, especially when in the water. Sea Lions are longer, sleeker-looking and have large front flippers and a hinged pelvis which helps them to effectively navigate on land. Sea Lions are very common along the central coast of Oregon. In the Newport area, one raft that has taken up residence in the Yaquina Bay and can often be heard making their distinctive “bark” from miles away. Another and much larger group lives north of Florence and can be easily viewed when visiting the Sea Lion Caves. In comparison, Harbor Seals are smaller and more “sausage shaped.” They have comparatively small fins and are not as vocal as Sea Lions. There are several stable populations of seals in Coos, Alsea, Yaquina, Siletz, Netarts and Tillamook bays.
In the wild, both species function as predator and prey. Their extraordinary swimming abilities allow them to easily chase down fish like herring, salmon and anchovies. Likewise, they are hunted by larger predators like Great White Sharks and Orcas, more commonly known as Killer Whales.
Quill the California sea lion made a bit of a mess slurping up the green gelatin she was treated to in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
Protecting These Species
Legislation like the Marine Mammal Protection Act helps to ensure that Sea Lions and Harbor Seals do not meet the same fate as the Sea Otter. Although many good hearted people try to assist these creatures when they appear stranded, it is more likely that they have just hauled themselves out of the water to rest. Remember that disturbing Sea Lions and Harbor Seals is illegal.
If you find a marine mammal you think is stranded, call the Oregon State Police or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They will determine if the animal needs help and also record its species, measurements, health and other data for research purposes.
You can watch our sea lions being fed every day at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Coloration between individual Harbor Seals varies widely, from near white to black. They usual coloration is bluish grey with white spots and small rings. Front and rear flippers are short, and there are no external ears.