Fun Facts About Australian Sea Lions

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, with only around 14,700 of them left. 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, which makes it the third largest colony in the world.

The reason Australian Sea Lion numbers are so low is because they were vigorously hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries, leaving the population to dwindle rapidly. They were primarily hunted for their blubber, which was used for oil, meat, and leather goods. The problem today isn’t hunting (which is strictly prohibited). Instead, numerous Australian Sea Lions get injured or drown every year after getting caught in fishermen’s nets.

Australian Sea Lions are social creatures who communicate with each other. Living in such large colonies means they often form subgroups that are a lot more intimate than the bigger pack. In each subgroup, you can expect to find between 10 and 15 sea lions, but an individual can move from one group to another as the course of their life changes.

Australian Sea Lions need to eat a lot to maintain their energy levels. For the most part, they feed on fish, squid, and other sea creatures that contain meat. Smaller prey is eaten whole, whereas larger catches will often be torn up in to 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. The mature bulls fight for the attention of the females, becoming aggressive and territorial. Young pups can be born any time between January and June, and it varies depending on whereabouts the sea lions call home. Once a female has given birth (usually to just one pup), she will not have another for up to three years.