Fun Facts About Australian Sea Lions

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 04/30/2016

Reading time: 3 mins

One of the major draws of Kangaroo Island are the Australian Sea Lions that inhabit it. In an area dubbed Seal Bay, these cute critters relax and play against a backdrop of turquoise ocean and golden sands.

Forming part of a group known as ‘eared’ seals, the Australian Sea Lion is now one of the rarest species on the planet. Only an estimated 14,700 wild seals remain. 85% of the population can be found in South Australia, while the other 15% are at home in Western Australia.

At Seal Bay, you can find a colony of around 1,000 sea lions, making it the third largest colony in the world.

Australian sea lion numbers dwindled significantly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Local hunters quickly realised the sea lions were a quick cash grab and exploited their then significant population size. They were primarily hunted for their blubber, which was used for oil, meat, and leather goods. Today, hunting is strictly prohibited, however the sea lion population is still in decline. Each year hundreds of sea lions are injured or trapped in fishing nets and human-caused sea waste.

You can help protect sea lions by taking all your rubbish home with you. Plus, if you see waste on the beach pick it up and dispose of it properly.


Australian Sea Lions are social creatures with complex communication systems. Living in large colonies, they often form subgroups that are more intimate than the bigger pack. In each subgroup, you can expect to find between 10 and 15 sea lions. Individuals may move between subgroups throughout their lifetime. Some causes of  moment include social group complications or potential breeding opportunities.

In order to keep their energy levels high, sea lions need to eat a lot. They’re very big after all! For the most part, they feed on fish, squid, and other fleshy sea creatures. Smaller prey is eaten whole, while larger catches are often torn up into smaller, more digestible chunks. Their strong back teeth make it possible for them to crack thick shells and get through to the meat of a creature. In some instances, they have been known to eat small penguins when food levels have been drastically low.

When it comes to raising their young, the Australian Sea Lion is much like any other animal of its kind. Mature bulls become aggressive and territorial to get the attention of females. Young pups can be born any time between January and June. Peak breeding seasons vary depending on the geographic location of a colony. Once a female has given birth (usually to just one pup), she will not have another for up to three years.

You can see these magnificent creatures at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island. There are strict laws in place protecting these animals and human interaction. Be sure to keep your distance, and never approach or touch a sea lion on land or in the sea.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.