Meet the Seal Whisperer

Meet the Seal Whisperer

For Mel Ston­nill, Seal Bay Con­ser­va­tion Park on Kan­ga­roo Island is more than one of the world’s pre­mier eco-tourism destinations.

It’s also the place where the park’s research and oper­a­tions coor­di­na­tor feels most at home. 

Seal Bay is home to the third largest colony of Aus­tralian sea lions in the world. They are lit­er­al­ly wild and we’re stand­ing in their bed­room,” she says.

It’s actu­al­ly more like a sea­side sanctuary. 

The Aus­tralian sea lion pop­u­la­tion is in decline and Seal Bay is the only ongo­ing research facil­i­ty for the species, which makes my job all the more special.”

In fact, a key part of Mel’s role is to main­tain and con­tin­u­al­ly devel­op the long-term mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram of the seal colony at Seal Bay, which is deliv­ered by the South Aus­tralian Research and Devel­op­ment Insti­tute (SAR­DI) and the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water (DEW). The nature con­ser­va­tion pro­gram has pro­vid­ed data on microchipped and scanned ani­mals for over 20 years. 

Mel ven­tures into the colony reg­u­lar­ly dur­ing breed­ing sea­son to scan the microchips of var­i­ous ani­mals and col­lect the vital data stud­ied by SARDI.

I real­ly do feel like I have the best job in the world,” says Mel.

It sounds ridicu­lous but I always talk to them! They’ve all got dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties – some of them are more aggres­sive and some are real­ly playful.

But you always know when you have to leave quickly!”

Vis­i­tors can learn about the con­ser­va­tion efforts of this endan­gered species on a spe­cial research tour at Seal Bay.

And there’s no bet­ter time to vis­it than now.

For Mel, win­ter is amaz­ing on Kan­ga­roo Island – full of breath­tak­ing scenery along coastal land­scapes and incred­i­ble Aus­tralian wildlife encounters.

You’ve got to be ok with get­ting the wind in your face and explor­ing to real­ly appre­ci­ate this island,” she says

Get dirty, switch your phone off and go down west where you can’t check your emails and actu­al­ly just expe­ri­ence the moment.

You can just recon­nect with what is actu­al­ly impor­tant to you in life.”

A vis­it to Seal Bay is a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to see sea lions and their pups up close. You can take a stroll along the board­walk with a self-guid­ed tour, or for some­thing extra spe­cial book in for a guid­ed tour.

With this option, expe­ri­enced guides take you into the core of the colony, shar­ing sto­ries about how these crea­tures spend their days hunt­ing, surf­ing and rest­ing. You’ll also learn about the species’ endan­gered sta­tus and the con­ser­va­tion efforts under­way to pro­tect them.

Plan your vis­it now! 

Video cour­tesy of Kan­ga­roo Island Tourism Alliance. 

Head­er image cour­tesy of Kan­ga­roo Island Tourism Alliance and Fuller Brand Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.
Pho­tog­ra­ph­er: Christo­pher Morrison

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living