Australian Sea Lions of Seal Bay

Australian Sea Lions Seal Bay Kangaroo Island in Legend of the Lighthouse Moon by Helen Edwards. Photo Nikki Redman

** Image by Nikki Redman Photography

There’s a strong environmental and conservation theme running through all of my stories. In Legend of the Lighthouse Moon, the endangered Australian Sea Lion takes centre stage. I’ve learned a lot about these incredible creatures and the history of Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island during my research. The amazing rangers at Seal Bay have been wonderful. I’ll be sharing some of what I know in the lead-up to Legend of the Lighthouse Moon coming out on 2nd October.

Here’s a little bit about the sea lions. With thanks to Seal Bay National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia

Otariidae – ‘eared seals’ have external ear flaps and strong fore-flippers developed to support their bodyweight for movement on land. These seals use their fore-flippers to propel through water and hind-flippers for steering. This family is made up of 7 sea lion (hair seal) and 9 fur seal species (Goldsworthy & Kirkwood, 2013). This family includes Australia’s native pinniped species’, Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea), Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) and long-nosed fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri).

Australian Sea lions are our only endemic pinniped species. The estimated population size prior to historic hunting is unknown, however their former distribution extended to eastern Bass Strait (Victoria) and northern Tasmania (Campbell et al., 2007). The current estimated population is as low as 10,000 (Goldsworthy et al. 2021), with the breeding distribution extending from Houtman Abrolhos islands, Western Australia to Pages Island, South Australia (Goldsworthy et al., 2021a).

There are 80 known breeding sites, but only 7 of these result in more than 100 pups per breeding season. South Australia is home to all 7 large breeding colonies and 82% of the species breeding population overall (Goldsworthy et al., 2021a). Seal Bay is thought to be the third largest breeding colony consisting of an estimated 800 individuals.

The Australian sea lion is listed as Endangered under the IUCN Red List and more recently up listed from Threatened to Endangered in December, 2020 under the Australian Environmental Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act (Goldsworthy et al., 2021a).

In coming weeks I’ll share more about their behaviour and relationships. They’re intelligent, playful and loving and I’m so excited to be able to highlight the Australian Sea Lion in Legend of the Lighthouse Moon. We’ll be visiting Kangaroo Island in October to launch the book at Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and visiting Seal Bay as well. Such a magical setting for my story! More details regarding launch events coming soon.

Photos by Nikki Redman Photography

Australian Sea lions at Seal Bay photo Nikki Redman. Feature in Legend of the Lighthouse Moon by Helen Edwards
Photo by Nikki Redman Photography

Leave a Comment