Australian Coastal Safaris - sea lions swimming

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Sea Lion

  • SUMMARY

The Australian sea lion is Australia's only endemic sea lion with over 80% of the population found in South Australia. Sea lions were harvested in the late 1700s and early 1800s with their populations reduced to very low numbers. It is estimated that there are currently between 10 000 and 12 000 animals. This small population makes these mammals a threatened species in all of its range.

It is listed as 'rare' under South Australian legislation and has 'special protected species' status in Western Australia. Australian sea lions do not have an annual breeding cycle like any other mammal. They breed every 17½ months (spread over a 5 month period), so one year they're breeding in summer and the following breeding period will be winter. Sea lion colonies also have an asynchronous breeding cycle, meaning that various colonies are breeding at different times of the year. Therefore, sea lion colonies are all breeding at different times, for example one colony may be at the peak of its breeding cycle while another has no breeding activity.

Sea lions are characterized by the presence of external ear pinnae or flaps, long front flippers, and the ability to walk on four flippers on land. Their range extends from the subarctic to tropical waters of the global ocean in both the northern and southern hemispheres with the notable exception of the Atlantic Ocean. They are generally found in shallow waters of coastal areas of both with abundant food resources.