Seals are dog-like carnivores with flippers instead of paws. Genetically, bears and the red panda are their closest relatives. About 23 species of seals exist today. They feed on marine life, primarily fish, but they spend a great deal of time hauled out on land to warm up, sleep, or breed.

The 18 true seals (Family Phocidae) have no external earlobes. These seals use only their front flippers to move on land. Their rear flippers face to the rear and must be dragged around when they go onshore.

The 15 eared seals (Family Otariidae) have visible earlobes. These seals have rear flippers which rotate to the sides and can be used to help propel them on land. The two groups of eared seals include sea lions (6 species) and the fur seals (9 species). Differences in the anatomy of their shoulder blades separate these two groups.