When in the water a sea lion moves by using its front flippers to move forward, propelling itself through the water. It uses these flippers like wings, and when at its fastest can reach speeds of up to 25mph. The flapping of the front flippers does not need to be continuous, as the sea lion has a streamlined body and is able to glide between each stroke. Its back flippers are used to help steer the sea lion in the water, this combined with the flexibility of its spine allows the animal to make sharp turns.
When on land however the sea lion must adapt its movement, as its front flippers can no longer be used to propel. Their back flippers will change position on the body. When in water the flippers face backwards, when on land these flippers rotate forward and underneath its body to act as feet. The back flippers move in a transverse motion. The front flippers are also used as feet, supporting the top half of the sea lion, allowing it walk on land using all four of its flippers as legs.
As a sea lion spends much of its time at sea, it must also have a resting position. It floats on the surface of the water with both of its back flippers and one of its fore flippers above the water. This is known as 'jugging' and it helps the body to conserve heat.