The Walrus is a fascinating species that lives in the area around the north pole. This one was photographed in Holland. In a similar way, they are infrequent visitors to the UK. Having said this, they used to be resident in Scotland, with the last dominant male and his harem being killed in 1850. There are occasional talks about reintroducing them, and they would likely be the easiest member of carnivora to return to our crowded island.

There are 2 subspecies of the Walrus, the Atlantic walrus and the Pacific walrus. Currently, these animals number in total 250,000 but before exploitation there were thought to be a high of 200,000 Pacific Walrus and the Atlantic Walrus population merely estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. While now having been subspecies for quite some time, the two are only thought to have diverged 500,000 to 750000 years ago.

While its current distribution is clearly very centred around the north pole, they roam widely. They used to be found in the UK until around 1850, and several have spent time around the UK in the last few years. The picture above is that of wally the Walrus resting in Cornwall. of course to see these animals in their element, it is worth going north.

Below is a video from planet earth, showing an exhausted polar bear, trying to predate walrus.  This move is a clear act of desperation, as while one on one, a polar bear might manage to take a large walrus, attacking a herd of walrus is a quite different matter. 

Below that is a list of articles which have been written on this species within this website. While currently, there are not many, we hope to add more in the future. If you study them or similar, do get in touch as we would love to feature articles from the field.

Below both of these, we aim to start adding places where you can see walrus in the wild.

Leopard Seal

Incredible hunters, they are important for controling populations in this area. Photo credit:Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith

Leopard Seal

This seal is the second largest (after the southern elephant seal) to be found in the Antarctic ocean. It has a wide ranging diet, which includes cephalopods, other pinnipeds (i.e. seals and similar) krill, fish, cephalopod and birds with a specific interest in penguins; indeed unlike other members of the seal family, leopard seals also feed on other marine mammals. Most commonly, they may eat crabeater seals, Weddell seals, and Antarctic fur seals. Indeed, the leopard seal is considered an apex predator, with the ability to control populations of various species.  Its only predator is the Orca, and large sharks.

It was first scientifically described in 1820. While naturally found only around Antarctic, they have been noted to wander as far as New Zealand and Australia. Except pups with their mother, they live solitary lives, and are thought to number 220,000 to 440,000.

                                       The most common view of a leopard seal, but like the leopard often seen up a tree, this is not where they are dangerous

Being large hunters, they can pose danger to humans, though attacks on humans are rare.

They live for up to 26 years, and are thought currently relatively stable as a species, though their reliance on the ice floes around Antarctica may prove a threat to the species if climate change continues unabated for some time further.

It is well worth seeing this species, and we hope to list places where you might actually find them in the wild. Do get in touch for us to add your guiding/boating or whatever, which will allow people to see this species in the wild


Fur Seals

Like Sea lions, fur seals are an eared seal, but there is not just one in the world, but instead a whole range of them.



They are more closely related to sea lions than to true seals, have external ears, long flippers and the ability to walk on all fours.

This is all the species of fur seals, but the middle fur seal is the only one found in the northern hemisphere.

Do work with us if you work in tourism of fur seals, we are keen over time to list as many tourism opportunities that are to do with, and to help people find you.


An encounter with almost any wild animal can be something you remember for years. This sealion that came out of the sea on the beach in New Zealand is no different


There are 6 living species of sea-lion, and 1 extinct. As the interest in these species grows and the links become unwieldy i will split out the separate species, but for the time being I will just have one page for them all – help it to be necessary to split them as soon as possible. 

Sea-lions are pinnipeds with external ear flaps, long fore-flippers, the ability to walk on all fours, short and thick hair, and a big chest and belly. The sea-lions the 6 living species shown below (the Japanese sea-lion is extinct) in five genera. Their range extends from the subarctic to tropical waters of the global ocean in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the notable exception of the northern Atlantic Ocean. They have an average lifespan of 20–30 years.[2] A male California sea-lion weighs on average about 300 kg (660 lb) and is about 2.4 m (8 ft) long, while the female sea-lion weighs 100 kg (220 lb) and is 1.8 m (6 ft) long. The largest sea-lions are Steller’s sea-lions, which can weigh 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) and grow to a length of 3.0 m (10 ft). Sea-lions consume large quantities of food at a time and are known to eat about 5–8% of their body weight (about 6.8–15.9 kg (15–35 lb)) at a single feeding. Sea-lions can move around 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) in water and at their fastest they can reach a speed of about 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph).[3] Three species, the Australian sea-lion, the Galápagos sea-lion and the New Zealand sea-lion, are listed as endangered.

Steller Sea-lion are found on the land of North America and Asia that circle the north pole (map below, credit NOAA). 

They are predated by killer whales, though sleeper sharks and great whites sometimes take young. They eat a variety of foods, include various fish species, as well as octopus and squid. They are fast swimmers, capable of diving to 1500feet, and staying under for 16 minutes

During breeding season, males fight to control a stretch of beach, and females move freely to the place they favour. 

Status: population has fallen 70-80% since the 1970s and so are listed as endangered, around 46,000 individuals, though in recent years, the Eastern population has grown at around 3% a year (in 2013 this lead to its removal from the US endangered species list)


Australian Sea-lion is the only endemic pinniped found in Australia.

They can make a variety of calls, with mothers and young able to pick up each others call in the chaos of a breeding beach. There are currently 66 recognized breeding beaches, though 42% of pups are bred on just 4 of these beaches.

While rare, a bite can require hospitalisation. In both the 1930s and 1960s they were recorded as feeding on little penguins, and this still happens today. Other food includes a variety of fish and even small sharks, in turn, they are hunted by great white sharks and killer whale (orca).

Population was 14370 in 2010 though by 2014 it had fallen to just 6500 mature individuals, though current estimates are 11,200 suggesting a rebound. Still it is clear that they need particular efforts for their conservation. Despite their (relatively) close ranges, the Australian and New Zealand sea-lions do not appear to be closely related. They are considered vulnerable.

California Sea-lion Are found on the west coast of north America. On this map, the navy blue marks the breeding rance, while the light blue shows the total range that they can be found in. It should be noted, that previously the Japanese and Galapagos sealion were both considered subspecies of the Californian species, but no longer. They can stay healthy, for a time, in fresh water, and have been seen living for a while in Bonneville dam – 150 miles inland.

They see (mostly in blue/green) and hear well, as well as being able to sense nearby, with their whiskers. They generally eat fish, squid and occasionally clams. They have been seen cooperating with other sealions, or indeed dolphins porpoises and sea-birds in their hunting techniques, though exploitation is also common.

There are 5 relatively distinct populations. Several sealions have reached Japanese waters in recent years, and this is the most likely origin, as such  it could return to Japan on its own. 

It is considered least concern with 238,000-241,000 individuals and increasing over time.

Galapagos Sea-lions Found on all of the Galapagos Islands, as well as (in smaller numbers) on Isla de la Plata, which is just 40km from Puerto López a village in Ecuador. There have also been recorded sightings on the Isla del Coco which is 500km southwest of Costa Rica (and 750km from the Galapagos). These are not regular, and so have been considered vagrant. It is of course possible that historically they roamed here, but we cannot say.

They are the smallest species of sea-lion, and can often be seen gliding through the water, or sunbathing on the beach. They measure 1.5m-2.5m and weigh between 50 and 400kg.

Much of their diet is made up of sardines. Interaction with humans is usually negative, and feral dogs often form packs, and can then attack the sealions.

The population tends to bounce between 20,000 and 50,000 and they are currently classed as endangered


New Zealand Sea-lion (formerly known as the Hooker sealion) is native to south island, though before 1500 it is thought that it was also found on north island. They tend to breed on Subarctic islands of Auckland and Campbell (99% of the pups are born in these islands). In 1993, sealions started breeding on South Island again for the first time in 150 years.

Genetic evidence suggests that until 1300-1500 there was a mainland subspecies, which was wiped out by the Mauri’s and has been replaced by members from the sub-Antarctic population.

As well as eating fish and crustations, they will take new Zealand fur seals as well. They are hunted by great white sharks, and in a survey 27% of adults had scars from near misses. While south American sealions are hunted by orca (with them famously beaching to catch them) they do not appear to do this around New Zealand. After the birth of their pup, females move inland as much as 2km to avoid males, storms and even parasites.

They are thought to number 12,000 making them the rarest sealion. They are also the most distinct being part of the Genus Phocarctos, and are listed as endangered.


South-American Sea-lion

Also known as the Southern sealion or the Patagonian sealion. They have been recorded going as far north as Ecuador, though not yet breeding there. They eat fish, as well as squid and octopus, and have even been observed predating penguins, pelicans and South American fur seals.

Males set up territories, but after the arrival of females switch to protecting them. Having said this, one population in Peru have a different set-up where males perform, and females choose a mate, and are free to move freely. This may be in result to the warmer climate, which means the females make regular trips into the sea.

The total population is estimated at 265,000. They are declining in Patagonia (Argentina) and the Falklands but increasing in Chile and Uruguay. In the 2013 El nino many Peruvian sealions died. They are still regularly killed by fishermen, both for damaging equipment and stealing fish.

They are listed as least concern


As we gain contacts each picture above will become a link to a page for the specific species – for now, all species will be looked after by this page. If you are a wildlife guide or live nearby and want to be able to host (as a hotel or B&B or campsite) and would like to be listed do get in touch. Our aim, is to give people all the information and links on one page, so that they can book everything in one go – making it easy, and therefore more people undertaking these sort of trips.

Sea-lions can be specifically searched out, but it is also possible to have a surprise encounter with one.

One of my most memorable encounters with any wildlife, is an encounter with a New Zealand sealion.  We had simply gone for a walk on the beach, and at some point, we saw the sea-lion coming out of the sea. This huge male slowly made its way towards us, and when about 10m away it lay down in the sand, threw sand all over itself and went to sleep.

To return to the Pinniped page click here

Harp Seal

Also known as the Saddleback seal, or the Greenland seal, the harp seal spends most of its life at sea.

Harp seal

Thankfully it is a fast breeder, and is therefore capable of bouncing back fast.

They have a global population of around 7.6 million, and there are 2 recognized subsepcies. They migrate long distances (as much as several thousand miles, but unfortunately all 3 populations are hunted by various countries.

In the past, that hunting quota has had horrific effects on population size, with it being as low as 1 million and as high as 9 million at different times in the last 150 years. These days the quota is worked out scientifically, which has stopped human caused seesaw of the population size.

Ribbon seal

The ribbon seal is a mid-sized seal species found throughout the Arctic and sub-arctic.

Young ribbon seals look like young harp seals. In the past, they were hunted too close to extinction, but Russia banned their hunting in 1969 and the population has bounced back to 250,000.

In March 2008, the USA government considered listing this species on the endangered list, unfortunately the government decided that climate change did not threaten the sea ice to remain – as a result they decided not to list the species IT IS TOTALLY RIDICULOUS THE USA GOVERNMENTS POSITION. In 2009 it was sued to reconsider, and in 2013 it decided once again that listing was not required.

Grey Seal

There are 2 recognized subspecies, one in the Baltic sea and the other in North west and east of the Atlantic (this is the other common species found in UK waters.

Grey seal

There are a number of well known breeding colonies around the coast of the UK. Notable colonies in the UK, include Blakeny point in Norfolk, the Farne and Orkney islands. There is also colonies around the USA and Canada.

Around much of the world, the primary hunter is the Orca, though there are also a variety of sharks that will also take one if given the chance. Recent observations have also shown that they take harbour seals and porpoises if they get the chance.

There has also been a significant level of cannibalism where male seals kill pups of its own species.

Harbour Seal

The harbour seal is hugely widely spread around the northern hemisphere. Indeed, it is the widely spread pinniped species, found around the north of the Atlantic, Pacific Baltic and North seas.

Harbour seal

The global population is thought to be 350,000-500,000 (though there is a subspecies Ungava in Northern Quebec which is endangered.

Populations in Greenland, Hokkaido and the Baltic sea are reducing, and so are threatened. Here populations have been greatly reduced or eliminated.

There are 5 recognized subspecies as they are spread so widely across the world.

There are roughly 100,000 seals in Europe, and about 30% of them are in UK waters.

Spotted Seal

Also known as the Larga or Largha seal, it is considered a true seal which inhabits the ice floes of North pacific ocean. There is a fear that global warming might reduce ice floes and therefore end this population, but thus-far it does not appear to have had any impact.

A spotted seal

The bering sea population currently number around 100,000, with a second population of 100,000 in the sea of Japan. A third population of 3300 live in the LIadong bay in China,

It is not currently thought that climate change will impact sea ice enough to threaten the population in the near future.

Caspian Seal

One of the smallest seals, it is found exclusively along the shore and in the very salty Caspian sea. Evidence suggests that like similar populations, seals initially migrated along rivers, which have now ceased to exist, cutting them off from the rest of the world.

The caspian seal

At various times, illnesses like canine distemper has swept through the population, killing thousands, but thankfully never wiping out the whole population.

100 years ago, the seal population was around 1.5 million. Through various problems from humans, such as reducing fish stocks, and various illnesses this population has dropped to its current level of around 70,000.

Increasing industrial activity has lead to an increase in chemicals that damage the seals in the water. It is thought that this is having an impact of reducing the seals capacity of fighting off diseases.

Sea eagles do predate young, and are known to kill quite a few.

A die-off of around 2500 happened in December 2022. At this time, it is not clear what caused this.

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