Endangered Oceanic Species   
 Seals & Sea Lions

Cetacea   Fish   Manatees & Dugongs   Polar Bears   Seahorses   Sea Birds   Sea Turtles   Seals   Sharks





There are 33  species of seals, sea lions, furs seals and walruses,  or pinnipeds as they are known scientifically.  Of these the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) , the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), the Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi), the Saimaa seal (Phoca hispida saimensis) and Steller's sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) are listed as endangered by the IUCN/World Conservation Union.   Just recently declared extinct, and last seen in 1952, was the Caribbean monk seal. Seals and sea lions are found in all of the world's oceans, and in a few freshwater lakes, including Lake Baikal in Russia. Many nations, including the United States, are actively attempting to protect endangered seal populations but the battle is far from over. The most endangered seal in the world is the Mediterranean monk seal, whose numbers are estimated to be between  400 and 650 individuals.

There are three families of living pinnipeds that are recognized, the Phocidae (hair seals or true seals), the Otaridae (fur seals and sea lions) and the Obobenidae (walrus). The term pinnipedia translates from Latin as "fin foot". All of these species come ashore to breed, give birth and to nurse their young.

Most of the world's populations of seals live near Antarctica and the Artic Circle, vast regions of ice that have few human inhabitants. Those in the Artic are more threatened than those in the Antarctic since their domain is also shared by humans, foxes, wolves and other predators. Other seal populations that are scattered around the world are severely threatened primarily due to the activities of man and the resulting pollution and loss of habitat and competition for prey species. Commercial hunting of seals in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in the early part of this century, played a huge role in pinniped population declines. There was a massive slaughter of fur seals wherever they were found, from the Aleutian Islands to the Antarctic and the shores and islands of all of the major continents. Seals are especially vulnerable when on land, breeding and having their young, as they are slow and ponderous and can easily be blocked from entering the sea. Bludgeoning to death with clubs and bats was a common and savagely brutal means to harvest these helpless creatures. The Northern fur seal inhabits the North Pacific from California to Japan and was estimated to number over 4.5 million in 1870. In forty short years the population was reduced to only 200,000 by 1914. Similar declines in other species was commonplace.

Today, the slaughter continues. Exploitation of South African fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) began in 1610 and is still going on. Their major population is along the southwestern coast of Africa, but they also range as far as Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. By the end of the 19th century, their populations along the coasts of Angola, Namibia and South reached dangerously low levels and sealing (or harvesting of seals) was curtailed. After increases in the 20th century, a large commercial harvest of 75,000 was authorized on a population that was estimated at 1,100,000. This species is the only fur seal still killed in large, legal kills. In 2000, 60,000 were slaughtered. Fisherman pressure the government to maintain this kill, claiming that the fur seals harm fish stocks. Fur dealers also of course are in on the action, eager for seal pelts. The hunt in Namibia was filmed in 2000 and aired on CNN showing young male seals on shore being killed by men clubbing them with wooden bats. At the present time, activists are attempting to end this inhumane hunt. Annual seal hunts still also continue in Canada, under much protest from animal rights and environmental groups.

The American National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has jurisdiction over four species of pinnipeds in the U.S. that are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). These are the Caribbean monk seal (thought to be extinct), the Guadalupe fur seal, the Hawaiian monk seal and the Stellar sea lion. The Hawaiian monk seal is currently one of the world's most endangered marine mammals. Once believed to have occurred throughout the Hawaiian islands, it is now largely restricted to the small, rocky islands northwest of Hawaii. They are also found on the Midway Islands, Maro Reef, Gardner Pinnacles, Necker Island and Nihoa Island. The total population is estimated to be only slightly more than 1,000 individuals. Even smaller in number is the Mediterranean monk seal, whose population is less than 500.

The links below will take you to some great websites about seals & sea lions.
The best sites to start for general information are marked with a star
If you have a site that you think should be listed, please email me.

Official, Scientific & Governmental Sites
Endangered Species Organizations
Seal & Sea Lion Observation
Seal & Sea Lion Conservation Groups
Other Countries
Seal & Sea Lion Species
Seal & Sea Lion Rescue & Rehabilitation

Mass Extinction of Species


The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums
The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international association representing marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study, and wildlife presentations.

Endangered Species Handbook: Fur Seals
The Endangered Species Handbook is a superb overview of some of the major endangered species on the planet. A great resource.

Marine Mammal Commission
The Marine Mammal Commission is an independent agency of the U.S. Government, established under Title II of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It was created to provide independent oversight of the marine mammal conservation policies and programs being carried out by the federal regulatory agencies.

The National Marine Mammal Laboratory's Education Website.

Threatened, Endangered, and Depleted Seals and Sea Lions
1998 NOAA International Year of the Ocean webpage


ICUN World Conservation Union
The World Conservation Union is the world’s largest and most important conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the biodiversity assessment and policy implementation arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world's foremost intergovernmental environmental organization.

US Fish & Wildlife Webpages on Endangered Species
The American endangered species list maintained by the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Word Conservation Union ICUN Red List of Endangered Species

IUCN - The World Conservation Union, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC) has for four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.

Sea Lion Caves
See wild sea lions. Located 11 miles north of Florence on the Oregon Coast


ENGLAND   Seal Conservation Society
A non-profit charitable organization, the Society was set up in the spring of 1996 with the aim of protecting and conserving pinnipeds worldwide. This is a superb resource site. It's all here!


SCOTLAND  Dolphins & Seals of the Moray Frith
Website focusing on the marine mammals of  the Moray Frith in the North Sea.


Marine Mammal Center webpage on California Sea Lions
General information webpage

Caribbean Monk Seal

Monachus. org website profile of Caribbean Monk Seal. Monachus is an Internet Site dedicated to the Mediterranean, Hawaiian and Caribbean Monk Seals

Marine Mammal Center webpage on Guadalupe Fur Seal

General information webpage

Marine Mammal Center webpage on Harbor Seals
General information webpage


Harpseals.org is an all volunteer, non-profit organization with one goal: to permanently end the annual Canadian Harp Seal slaughter.

Hawaiian Monk Seal
Monachus. org website profile of Hawaiian Monk Seal. Monachus is an Internet Site dedicated to the Mediterranean, Hawaiian and Caribbean Monk Seals

Hawaiian Monk Seals
Webpage of Emily Gardner M.S., Hawaii's Marine Wildlife: Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, and Seals, A Course of Study

Animal Info: Mediterranean Monk Seal
Webpage devoted to this seal. Excellent resource site.

Mediterranean Monk Seal
Monachus. org website profile of Mediterranean Monk Seal. Monachus is an Internet Site dedicated to the Mediterranean, Hawaiian and Caribbean Monk Seals

Marine Mammal Center webpage on Northern Elephant Seal

General information webpage

Marine Mammal Center webpage on Northern Fur Seal

General information webpage

American Museum of Natural History webpage on Steller's Sea Lions

American Museum of Natural History - a source you can trust!

Sea Lions and Seals in Oregon
Oregon State University's Oregon Sea Grant webpage.

Steller's Sea Lions
NOAA Fisheries website on Alaska's Steller's Sea Lions


Marine Mammal Stranding Center
Dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals and sea turtles.

Seal Conservation Society Rescue & Rehabilitation Organizations
A master list of most of the world's seal rescue and rehab organizations.


American Museum of Natural History Statement  

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species

Professor David  Ulansey's Website -Mass Extinction Underway