About Australian sea lions

Aus­tralian sea lions (Neopho­ca cinerea) are part of a group known as eared’ seals. They use their front flip­pers to prop them­selves up and their back flip­pers to help them to walk’ on land. In the water their back flip­pers act as a rudder.

These fas­ci­nat­ing crea­tures are one of the rarest species in the world and their entire pop­u­la­tion is esti­mat­ed to be less than 12,000. Of these, 85 per­cent live in South Aus­tralia and the oth­er 15 per­cent in West­ern Australia.

Seal Bay is home to the third largest colony of Aus­tralian sea lions with an esti­mat­ed pop­u­la­tion of 800. This is about five per­cent of the world’s total. The Aus­tralian sea lion was near­ly hunt­ed to extinc­tion in the 19th cen­tu­ry. We can count our­selves lucky that places like Seal Bay exist today. 

Aus­tralian sea lions are list­ed as endan­gered and declin­ing on the IUCN Red List. They are also list­ed as endan­gered under the Com­mon­wealth Envi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­si­ty Con­ser­va­tion Act1999, and are pro­tect­ed in South Aus­tralia under the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

The Aus­tralian sea lion dif­fers from ear­less or true’ seals (such as leop­ard seals) – these have no exter­nal ear flaps and can’t use their hind legs when on land.