Australia Sea Lions in Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

Posted date: 20-January-2021

UK Seal Rescue Campaign. Based on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Curtis Wilson is an ASI surfing instructor with a passion for nature and the environment he loves.

When Curtis heard about our campaign to help support the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall, UK, he reached out to us to tell us some fascinating facts about seals and the Australian Sea Lions that are found in Seal Bay.

Australia doesnt have seals swimming around !  Except, we found out that there are seals in the very south (colder parts of Australia), in Tasmania, islands of Victoria and South Australia’s, Seal Bay.

Curtis spent time amongst the Australian Sea Lions that call Seal Bay their home.

“I worked at seal bay kangaroo Island, South Australia for 7 years with the Australian sea lions” he told us.

Despite being called Seal Bay, the local residents are actually Australian Sea Lions and whilst related to seals (like the Grey Seals in Cornwall), they are a different animal.

“Sea Lions are a lot newer, biologically speaking, than seals. Like New Zealand Fur Seals they have the remnants of ears and actually have the ability to walk on land” said Curtis.

“Seals are more closely related to dogs and can even be susceptible to canine disease” he added.

Something the seal pup has going for it is it’s innate ability to hunt for the high protein fish that are so important to its diet, unlike sea lions that need to learn these skills from its parents, Curtis tells us. Unfortunately, human activity is, once again, having a negative impact on seals and sea lions alike.

“Overfishing of high protein fish puts seal colonies at risk. Seals are a bit like frogs, their health reflects their environment” Said Curtis “From memory, Alaskan sea lions suffered greatly from overfishing of their primary food source”

These days the Sea Lion population at Kangaroo Island is very well cared for, they are tagged, monitored and protected. According to the Seal Bay website

“In recent times, there have been extensive, environmentally sensitive upgrades to the Seal Bay infrastructure, including the boardwalks and visitor centre.”

“The introduction of the Southern Kangaroo Island Marine Park protects the sea lion feeding environment from overfishing. Sanctuary zones keep them safe from entanglement in nets or from colliding with boats.”

Thanks so much for the information, Curtis!

Remember, should you come across seals it’s important to engage mindfully with the encounter. ASI instructor and marine biologist, Alana Bonnick gives us this advice:

“Always keep 100 yards away from marine life as they are wild animals and therefore can be unpredictable. If humans get too close we can also cause large amounts of stress to the animal which in some cases can result in injury, so it is best to just keep your distance! It is fine if the animal's curiosity gets the better of them and they decide to venture closer, like I said, I've had some very close encounters! But it is just important that it is on their terms.”

Find out more about the UK’s seal population,  how you can help them and what to do if you encounter them whilst out paddling in our interview with the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.

Don’t forget to follow our campaign #ASISealRescue and keep up to date with our campaign to support the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and send us your seal encounter stories if you want your very own, limited edition, Cornish Seal Sanctuary water bottle!

You can also donate to the Seal Sanctuary at:

https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/sealifemarineconservation/cornishsealsanctuary

Photo Ref:  Kangaroo Island Seal Bay.   www.sealbay.sa.gov.au/home