Scientific name

Eumetopias jubatus

Where does it get its name?

Steller sea lions are named for Georg Wilhelm Steller, a German surgeon and naturalist who first described and wrote about the species on the 1742 Bering expedition.

Their scientific name, Eumetopias, from the Greek, means “having a broad forehead”, and jubatus, from Latin, means “having a mane.”

Whale SENSE Region Found:


  • Eastern Distinct Population Segment (Cape Suckling south to SE AK, BC, WA, OR, CA): 
    • Not at Risk
  • Western Distinct Population Segment (Cape Suckling west through Aleutians and Bering Sea):
    • Endangered

Protected throughout its range

Depleted populations: Western Distinct Population Segment

Where to watch:

Nearshore: Found alone or in small groups at sea, but gather in large rafts on or near land. 

On land: Use land for rest, molting, and as rookeries for mating and pupping during the breeding season

Haulouts vs. Rookeries

Photo: Steller sea lions at haulout on Little Island, Juneau, AK (Ali Schuler)

Haulout: Sites where animals haul-out to rest, where breeding does not occur.

Rookery: Sites where sea lions mate and give birth on land.

What to watch for:

Body: Steller sea lions are sexually dimorphic (adult males are much larger than females)

  • Size:
    • Males: Length: Up to 11 feet, Weight: 2,000-2,500 pounds.
    • Adult females: Length: 7-9 feet, Weight: 600-800 pounds. 

Did you know?

Steller sea lions have a largely varied diet, known to feed on cephalopods (octopus and squid) and over a hundred species of fish.

If you see a sea lion with markings on their side in the form of letters and numbers, they were branded as pups. This identifying information is important for scientists to learn more about their life history and distribution. Learn more about this here.

Threats to Steller sea lions

Marine debris in the form of loops are one of the biggest risks for Steller sea lions to get entangled. Be sure to cut all plastic loops on packaging! Learn more about Lose the Loop.

Learn more about Steller sea lions