Do Sea Lions Eat Penguins? [Explained]

Yes, even if sea lions mostly depend on ocean vertebrates and fish, but many of them have been recorded eating penguins. South American sea lions have been observed preying on Gentoo and Rockhopper penguins in Chile, the Falkland Islands and Argentina.

In this blog post, I will discuss sea lions and penguins. Here, I will also show you the investigation about the diet of sea lions in general.

Do Sea Lions Eat Penguins?

Sea lions do eat penguins, but it is not a common occurrence. Sea lions are opportunistic predators. They eat whatever food source is available to them. They primarily feed on fish, squid, and crustaceans, but they are also known to eat birds, including penguins.

Sea lions have been observed and recorded hunting and eating penguins-(Source)

In most cases, sea lions and penguins coexist peacefully. They do not interact with each other in a predatory manner.

sea lion

The relationship between sea lions and penguins is complex. In most cases, they coexist peacefully without predatory interactions.

Warning fact: It is important to remember that all species play a role in their ecosystems, and the loss of any species can significantly impact the ecosystem’s overall balance.

Why Do Sea Lions Eat Penguins?

Even though they are much bigger than penguins and have the speed and agility to catch them in the ocean, sea lions mostly eat fish. But in some cases, they prefer to hunt penguins.

For instance, they get the perfect opportunity to catch a meal when they stumble across a bunch of penguins trying to get to the coast.

king penguin

Besides, penguins are a common target for sea lions, mainly when those animals’ typical food supplies are in short supply.

Sea lions will most definitely seize the chance to feed on young penguins when given the opportunity.

Note: However, even though they can walk on land, sea lions find it much more challenging to catch penguins once they reach the ground.

How Much Does a Sea Lion Eat?

Being carnivores, sea lions generally eat squid, octopuses and clams. They prefer to get all their food from the sea because they are marine predators.

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The fact that sea lions don’t drink water is an intriguing nutritional fact. The majority of the moisture they require comes from their diet. However, there are occasional instances of males consuming saltwater while fasting.

sea lion

During the mating season, male sea lions fast, mostly so they can spend more time guarding their territory. The males will break their fast after a few weeks and start eating normally.

Sea lions consume a wide range of creatures. They prefer to eat squid, octopus, anchovies, herring, salmon, rockfish, and other types of fish. Sea lions at the Dolphin Research Center eat herring, capelin, and smelt.

Wild sea lions regularly eat in packs and take in between 15 and 35 pounds (7 and 16 kg), or 5% to 8% of their total weight, of food each day. Sea lions usually have 34 to 38 teeth designed to help them grasp and shred food, yet they still consume it whole.

Mainly their water intake comes from the fish they consume, although they occasionally sip minute amounts of salt water when fasting during the mating season.

Rocks are occasionally found in the stomachs of sea lions. It might be the source of a false sensation of fullness experienced during the fasting period.

What Do Sea Lion Pups Eat?

For the first 6 to 8 months of their existence, sea lion pups typically consume their mother’s milk. The high-fat content of sea lion moms’ milk gives the dogs the energy and nutrition they need for rapid growth and development.

sea lion

Later, the sea lion pups switch their diet to other aquatic creatures like fish and squid. While certain sea lion species are known to eat a range of prey, others could specialize in one or more specific prey species.

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When Do Sea Lions Eat?

Due to their opportunistic feeding habits, sea lions often eat throughout the day and night, depending on food availability. They hunt for food on land and water and mainly eat fish and squid.

sea lion

Sea lions in the wild have been seen hunting at dawn, dusk, and even at night. They employ their vital hearing and smelling senses to find food.

Sea lions kept in captivity are frequently fed throughout the day at predetermined intervals (established by their keepers).

What Features Do Sea Lions Have That Help Them Feed?

Since sea lions have cone-shaped teeth that help them hold onto their prey and tear meat into small chunks, they don’t require chewing the food.

Having vibrissae- those long whiskers they have—helps them dive down and swim along the ground. The vibrissae help them to identify their prey.


What eats a sea lion?

Sea lions are preyed upon by several different animals, which include orcas, great white sharks, bald eagles and California sea otters. It is known that these animals prey on sea lions, but it’s rare. Sea lions have many natural defenses, like their speed and ability to stay in the water.

sea lion

Do Galapagos sea lions eat penguins?

No, the Galapagos sea lions don’t eat penguins. They usually prefer eating fish and squid, while penguins eat small fish and krill. These two species are very different from each other. The Galapagos sea lion and the penguin do not generally interact as predators because they belong to separate species.

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What do sea lions eat in captivity?

Sea lions in captivity tend to consume a diet full of fish, squids and other sea foods. This consumption helps them maintain good health. But in captivity, sea lions are given different types of food depending on their size and age. For example, older pups may require more calories than younger sea lions.

Do sea lions eat seals?

The sea lions don’t eat seals. They both belong to the same marine family. They are not known to prey on each other. They both prefer to consume fish and squid.

Do sea lions eat humans?

No, sea lions don’t eat humans. If they feel threatened, they tend to attack humans. They do not attack humans as a source of food. But you should treat them with care if you are around them.

Do sea lions eat sea otters?

In some circumstances, sea lions have been seen eating sea otters. In places where the food source is zero or the resources are highly competitive. Sea lions tend to eat sea otters to survive in their habitat. But other than that, they do not tend to eat each other.


At times, sea lions are short on their regular food supply, so they tend to consume penguins at that time. The penguin population has seen a definite impact due to this reason. It usually depends on the environment and the situation.

All this demonstrates how important it is to understand these species’ habitats and behaviors and the potential impacts of human behavior and environmental changes on animal populations and relationships. By learning more about sea lions and penguins, we can take action to promote their conservation and maintain their numbers for future generations.

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