This family comprises fourteen species of eared seals. The otariids are subdivided into two groups – the fur seals and the sea lions – which are visually and genetically very similar. The otariids inhabit the entirety of the Pacific ocean and the southern part of the Atlantic ocean.

zeeleeuw 1As the name suggests, otariids do possess pinna, or external ears. Otariids have long whiskers that can grow well past the ears and their long, slender hind flippers can be folded underneath the body. Because otariids can support themselves on their flippers, sea lions and fur seals are able to walk around, making them much more agile on land than their phocid cousins.

Their fur is relatively long, which results in the larger males growing something resembling manes around the neck. Adult males are much larger than females, making it relatively easy to differentiate between sexes.

zeeleeuwen 1Sea lions and fur seals are quite social, and tend to spend the breeding season in large groups on the shore. Males fight for ownership of a territory and the right to mate with the females present. They don’t eat during mating season, but prefer to remain in their territory so they can fight off rival males and keep their harems together.

zeeleeuwen 1Females will come together to birth their pups and nurse them in large groups. Their pups will stay with them for nine to twelve months to be fed, and to be taught how to swim and hunt. Otariids reach sexual maturity after eight years. Females in the Otariidae family can live to be 20 to 25 years old, while males only live to be 18 to 20 years old.