With a name like Kangaroo Island, nobody would blame you for thinking that the place would be an attraction due to its high population of Aussie ‘roos.
However, this is not the case.
While the island is the home of a truly ridiculous amount of Skippys, there is other wildlife that lives on KI that is far more famous!
Kangaroo Island lies 112km southwest of Adelaide and is part of the state of South Australia. Though the island is generally thought of to be quite small, it boasts 509 kilometres of coastline, all of which is utterly pristine.
Seal Bay is a very aptly named stretch of coastline on the islands southern side. This area is part of the Seal Bay Conservation Park which is a protected marine park. This protection is designed to maintain a safe environment for one of Australia’s largest colonies of Australian Sea Lions. The sea lions come to the beach here to sun themselves on the shore, mate and even to give birth to their pups!
Tourists are not permitted to get closer than 10m to the animals and all visits onto the shore must be with a certified tour guide. This is to protect the safety and reduce any possible stress for the sea lions.
A seal bay tour which includes access to the self guided boardwalk will set you back $35 AUD per person, so it is far from a cheap outing – but if you can spare the cash, it really is well worth it.
After scoring the last few spaces on the next tour, it was time to get down to the beach to spot some gorgeous Aussie wildlife. Honestly though, even without the sea lions the place would still be worthy of a visit! It is rather a rather good looking stretch of beach after all.
Before even stepping foot onto the sand I had spotted my first sea lions! Look at this mumma and her pup just relaxing and enjoying the shade.
Then it was time to step onto the warm sand and get as close to these wonderful creatures as I possibly could. It is days like these that I really wish I had a telefoto lens!
Australian Sea Lions are only found in South Australia (85% of the total population) and Western Australia (15% of the total population). There are 39 breeding colonies, and as female sea lions return to the colonies where they were born to breed, there is very little mixing between these colonies. Seal Bay is home to the third largest of all of these colonies.
Population growth of these Sea Lions is very slow, and the total population is projected to be around 14,700 sea lions. Sea lions can live as long as 17-25 years, however, there are quite a few obstacles and dangers than can prevent sea lions from living out a normal life expectancy.
Each year, many sea lions fall victim to entanglement in fishing gear, marine debris and rubbish. They can also be hit by boats, eaten by bigger marine animals or die from starvation as a result of limited access to food.
On Kangaroo Island, conservation and preservation of Australian Sea Lion populations is of the highest importance.
It is upsetting to note that there is only one sea lion colony that is actually increasing in size! The remaining colonies are either stable or decreasing in size.
At Seal Bay, pups are tagged between 3-4 months of age. Ideally, this should be the only time in a sea lions life where it comes in contact with a human. The information collected from these microchips is used to study colony numbers, the growth or decline of colonies and how animals within each colony relate and interact with each other.
These beautiful animals are very social and enjoy spending time in groups. They love being in the water, but they love sunning themselves on the shoreline too!
Watching them glide through the waves, bark at each other, waddle along the shoreline and roll around on the beach was a pretty wonderful experience. Aussie Sea Lions are bloody beautiful creatures, and seeing them up close is nothing short of a privilege. For such a short visit the price tag may seem steep, but it is seriously worth it.
Even if you aren’t all that interested in sea lions, a visit to Seal Bay is worth it just for the views! South Australia is often overlooked by travellers, who more often than not will flock to the East Coast cities of Brisbane and Sydney for a beach fix. While I think this is a little bit of a travesty (being overlooked sucks) it means that these beaches are uncrowded and pristine – so it might actually be a blessing in disguise.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Adelaide: International flights arrive into Adelaide from numerous major airport hubs including Doha and Dubai
Flying to Kangaroo Island: REX Airlines fly direct from Adelaide to Kingscote, click here to book
Ferry-ing to Kangaroo Island: SeaLink Ferries sail from Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island, click here to book
Car Rental: Budget car rentals have two locations on KI, click here to learn more
Seal Bay: A 45 minute tour of Seal Bay will set you back $35, click here to learn more
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens
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