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Which Animal Did You See?

Pacific Harbor Seal

Harbor seals typically have spots or white fur, visible ear holes, can swim at birth, and have claws on both front & rear flippers. Their vocalization sounds like a sheep's "maa", and they move on land by pulling themselves forward by their front flippers

California Sea Lion

California sea lions have visible ear flaps, long darker front flippers and adult males have sagittal crest (a light colored bump) on the head. When they vocalize, they bark somewhat like a dog. Unlike seals, sea lions can walk on both their front and rear flippers and can be very agile on land. They are typically brown (in varying shades).

Northern Fur Seal

Northern fur seals have lighter bellies than backs, look furry, have long front & rear flippers, and have fur extending part way down the front flippers. Like sea lions, they can walk on both their front and rear flippers.

Northern Elephant Seal

Northern elephant seal pups have no ear flaps, short front flippers the same color as their body, flip sand, are docile, and have big round eyes. They move on land by pulling themselves forward by their front flippers. They are born with black coats which turn silvery grey after about a month. Their vocalization sounds like a loud cackle.


Dolphins and porpoises have dorsal fins, horizontal flukes (tail fins), and blowholes (nostrils), whereas sharks have vertical tail fins and gill slits for breathing. Dolphins tend to have arched/curved dorsal fins & beak shaped noses/faces, and porpoises typically have more triangular dorsal fins & blunt faces.


Whales have horizontal flukes (tail fins) and blowholes (nostrils). Baleen whales have throat grooves (ventral pleats), no teeth, and 2 blowholes side by side. Toothed whales have 1 blow hole, teeth, and no ventral pleats

Sea Otters

Sea otters have front cat-like paws without claws and have long rear flippers whereas river otters have webbed front and rear paws with claws. Sea otters often eat while floating on their backs.

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