Science, research and conservation

Sci­en­tif­ic research into the Aus­tralian sea lion is ongo­ing. It includes research into pop­u­la­tion and breed­ing, species health, and behaviour.

For over 25 years the Depart­ment of Envi­ron­ment, Water and Nat­ur­al Resources (DEWNR) has part­nered with gov­ern­ment organ­i­sa­tions such as the South Aus­tralian Research and Devel­op­ment Insti­tute (SAR­DI), Aus­tralian Uni­ver­si­ties and the Nature Foun­da­tion to track the pop­u­la­tion of Aus­tralian sea lions at Seal Bay and to try and deter­mine why the pop­u­la­tion is in decline. 

This part­ner­ship pro­vides valu­able infor­ma­tion about the health of the pop­u­la­tion of the sea lions at Seal Bay and under­pins the broad­er man­age­ment of the park so it remains a sus­tain­able tourism destination.

All sci­ence, research and con­ser­va­tion activ­i­ties are per­formed under the Aus­tralian Government’s Recov­ery Plan for the Aus­tralian Sea Lion. Fees col­lect­ed from tours in the park go back towards the con­ser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion of the Aus­tralian sea lion.

Sea lion mon­i­tor­ing & tracking

A reg­u­lar Aus­tralian sea lion mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram is in place. A month­ly count of all ani­mals in the colony is under­tak­en by a senior Seal Bay guide. At 3 – 4 months of age, each pup is micro chipped. This takes about 2 min­utes and is the only time an Aus­tralian sea lion comes into con­tact with a human being. A long scan­ning pole is used to read the microchips. Micro chip­ping pro­vides valu­able infor­ma­tion about colony num­bers, and about the rela­tion­ships between the animals.

Twice a year SAR­DI place a satel­lite track­er on a healthy bull to gath­er sta­tis­tics on where he feeds, how deep he dives, the qual­i­ty of the water he feeds in, along with oth­er infor­ma­tion. Some­times you may even see a bull with a satel­lite track­er on.

Car­ing for Seal Bay

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.