#21: True Seals

What are true seals? This is one of the commonly asked questions here at the New England Aquarium and I am here to answer it for all of you who, I know, are just dying to know. And the answer is ... drumroll please.................. NOTHING!

But my blog cannot and will not end with such a vague answer!

Sea lions are a type of seal that have external ear flaps, can rotate their hind flippers under their bodies and "walk" on land. They use long front flippers for swimming and standing, and have LOTS of blubber (or fat).

Our sea lion ladies, Zoe and Sierra. You can see their earflaps and upright posture here.

Fur seals look a lot like sea lions and have almost the same physical characteristics, except they don't have all that blubber to help keep them warm. They have, you guessed it, fur! Both sea lions and fur seals are in the same family and referred to as "eared seals."

Northern fur seals like Ursula have to groom frequently to get the most
warmth out of their fur coats.

True seals, sometimes referred to as "earless seals," are in another family. This includes all other seals except sea lions, fur seals, and walrus. True seals don't have external ear flaps, they use their hind flippers for swimming, they have a lot of blubber, and short front flippers so they slug around on land. Our Atlantic Harbor seals are examples of a true seals.

Atlantic harbor seals on the Front Plaza

When put side by side, you can really see the similarities and differences. Here at the New England Aquarium, we currently have Atlantic harbor seals and Northern fur seals and California sea lions.


  1. omg sealions are huuuuge!

  2. I like the ears.
    They look good. But I guess it's an easy way to tell em apart

  3. I want to see all of them next time I go!


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