Insider Guide – Seal Bay

Insider Guide – Seal Bay

Go behind the scenes to dis­cov­er the unique jobs and pas­sion­ate peo­ple that care for South Australia’s environment.

Melanie Ston­nill – Research, Edu­ca­tion & Oper­a­tions Coor­di­na­tor at Seal Bay Con­ser­va­tion Park

What’s the biggest draw­card at Seal Bay?

Vis­i­tors to the park are able to observe a wild colony of Aus­tralian sea lions in their nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment all year round, it’s like being involved in a real life David Atten­bor­ough doc­u­men­tary! Seal Bay is home to the third largest colony of this endan­gered species that is endem­ic to Aus­tralian waters, with an approx­i­mate total of 800 sea lions. The Aus­tralian sea lion pop­u­la­tion is in decline and Seal Bay is the only ongo­ing research facil­i­ty for the species, mak­ing the expe­ri­ence even more spe­cial for vis­i­tors inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the lat­est con­ser­va­tion efforts.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being able to work out­side with an endan­gered and charis­mat­ic species along the south­ern ocean real­ly is a dream job that I don’t take for grant­ed. It is amaz­ing being able to meet peo­ple from all over the world and share this expe­ri­ence with them. The stun­ning coast­line and behav­iour­al antics of the sea lions lit­er­al­ly blow peo­ple away and their enthu­si­asm is contagious.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen at Seal Bay?

There is quite a list! Ok I’ll pick one…it was on a real­ly rough and rugged, cold win­ter day and nine choco­late-brown pups wad­dled out of the sand dunes, slid­ing down from the salt bush onto the main beach all in a row. The first five went in the water, but the oth­er four were more wary, you could tell they were psych­ing them­selves into it! Even­tu­al­ly they all charged into the water and were jump­ing in and out of the white­wash and surf­ing some big waves. It was amaz­ing to see how the pups inter­act­ed with each oth­er and you got the vibe that there have been some peer pres­sure and safe­ty in num­bers. When pups con­gre­gate togeth­er, you can real­ly see some spe­cial moments.

What would vis­i­tors find sur­pris­ing about Seal Bay?

If you come to Seal Bay on a cold day, don’t be sur­prised if you find sea lions in the carpark and around the vis­i­tor cen­tre! Sea lions only have a hair pelt and feel the cold eas­i­ly so they like to seek shel­ter in the salt­bush and tea trees, and you can find them hud­dling togeth­er in big piles for body warmth. Vis­i­tors are often sur­prised at how agile sea lions are and once you explain their canine ances­tral routes and they lum­ber past you with all four flip­pers it all makes sense.

Kan­ga­roo Island’s nation­al parks and reserves are being cel­e­brat­ed as Park of the Month for July. Head to theNation­al Parks South Aus­tralia web­siteto find out more about these spe­cial places.

For more of Melanie’s insid­er tips on what to look out for on your next vis­it, check out 5 trea­sures in Seal Bay.

(Main image cour­tesy of Jason Tyn­dall Nature Play SA)

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Novem­ber 2016.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living