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Fur Seals Eared Seals and Sea Lions: Otariidae

Conservation Status

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the United States classify the Steller sea lion as Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. They are at risk due to extensive commercial fishing of pollock, its major prey fish, human pollution, accidental tangling in commercial fishing gear, and hunting by humans.


An eared seal's eyes are adapted for seeing in hazy seawater and bright sunlight. Underwater, the pupil, or opening at the front of the eye, expands to let in as much light as possible. In addition, a mirror-like layer behind the eyes reflects light back to the retina, increasing the amount of light entering the eyes. Out of the water, the pupil adjusts to the bright sunlight by narrowing into a tiny pinhole.

The IUCN lists many otariids as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. The Galápagos fur seal is vulnerable due to parasites and predators. The Juan Fernández fur seal is threatened by a limited population as a result of inbreeding. Guadalupe fur seals are vulnerable because of excessive harvesting. Northern fur seals are endangered by habitat loss or degradation due to human activities. Hooker's sea lions are at risk due to accidental entanglement in fishing gear and human hunting. Finally the Galápagos sea lion is vulnerable as a result of El Niño events, illegal hunting, and tangling in fishing gear.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsFur Seals Eared Seals and Sea Lions: Otariidae - Physical Characteristics, Conservation Status, Antarctic Fur Seal (arctocephalus Gazella:): Species Accounts, California Sea Lion (zalophus Californianus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET