SPECIES: Neophoca cinerea — Australian Sea Lion
The Australian Sea Lion is endemic only to Australia and is the rarest of the seal species found in our waters, ranging from Kangaroo Island in SA to the Houtmans Abrohlos which lie off the north-west coast of WA. The largest and most abundant breeding colonies are in SA and the Great Australian Bight waters.
The population is guesstimated at around 10,000. Females come ashore at breeding sites and remarkably, mothers usually return to their place of birth to give birth. Sea Lions, on average, live for about 20 years. At birth, pups are born black and weigh around 7kg. Their black coat begins to moult and turns to silver grey at about 12 months of age. Sea Lions are the fastest seals and can swim at speeds of up to 40km/hour. Australian Sea Lions are so flexible that they can nearly touch their rear flippers with their nose when bending backward. And they bark! Is it any wonder they are often referred to as the 'puppy dogs of the sea'.
Natural predators of the Sea Lion are sharks and Killer Whales. Sadly, human activity has contributed to the delcine of this beautiful species - getting caught in trawl nets, craypots, sharknets and longlines, causing severe injuries and death.
With thanks to Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience.