Sea lions are carnivorous animals that feed on squids and octopuses. They also eat large amounts of fish, including sardines, anchovies, herring, salmon, pompano and mackerel.

Fish serves as the primary source of food for sea lions. Sea lions also eat crabs and clams. The sea lion's exact diet varies depending on which food sources are abundant. They often hunt near the shore when there’s an adequate amount of prey. However, they move to areas farther from the coast to find more food when necessary, although this increases their risk of getting eaten by whales and sharks.

When food sources are extremely scarce, sea lions may feed on their young to survive. Researchers believe that consuming other sea lions is a natural instinct that helps control the population of the species, particularly in times of insufficient food supplies.

Once sea lions capture their prey, they swallow the food whole without chewing. However, they use their 34 to 38 teeth to tear large parts of their prey that are hard to swallow. They also use their teeth to break the shells of clams and eat the soft food inside. Sea lions often flip their prey many times until they find the right position to digest food easily.