Sea lions are threatened primarily by killer whales and sharks and, with few natural defense mechanisms, they attempt to escape these predators by getting out of the water and onto land as quickly as possible. Sea lions are faster swimmers than both of their natural predators and, if healthy, fully grown and aware of the threat, can evade them with ease.
Far more dangerous to sea lions than killer whales and sharks, however, are humans. People hunt sea lions for food, blubber, oil and fur. The animals are also killed to prevent them from competing with fishermen who not only want to preserve their catch but want to protect their fishing nets from the damage the sea lions cause. During the late 1800s, governments allowed people to kill sea lions for a bounty as a method of population control.
Sea lions have no defenses against humans, and their population is only increasing due to the efforts of conservation groups working with various governments to pass laws protecting them. These laws aren't worldwide, however. In terms of conservation status, sea lions are described as being vulnerable, with recovery plans drafted and ready to be implemented. As of 2014, interactions with commercial fishing operations, entanglement in debris and nets, oil spills and human disturbances all continue to harm sea lion populations.