Go behind the scenes to discover the unique jobs and passionate people that care for South Australia’s environment.
Melanie Stonnill – Senior Guide at Seal Bay
What’s the biggest drawcard at Seal Bay?
The biggest drawcard at Seal Bay is that you can see Australian sea lions all year round, no matter what the weather. It’s the only place in the world where you can observe Australia’s only endemic sea lion population. Their numbers are in slow decline and Seal Bay is the only research centre for the species, which makes it even more special.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy being able to work outside – with animals and the southern ocean. It’s also great getting to meet people from all over the world and share this experience with them. Coming to Seal Bay really is a highlight for people. They stand on the beach and say ‘this is incredible’, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen at Seal Bay?
Probably the most amazing thing I’ve seen here was on a really rough and rugged, cold winter day. Nine chocolate-brown pups waddled out of the sand dunes, sliding down all in a row. The first five went in the water, but not the other four. Eventually they all went in and they were jumping in and out of the water, surfing. It was really cool seeing how the pups interact with each other. Hopping out together, learning from each other – kind of like 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! As you look around you’ll notice trails of sand leading up in to the saltbush – this is how far the sea lions have ventured up the dunes. When the weather is particularly cold, they tend to head further up the dunes – some as far up as the visitor centre and the carpark. Visitors are often surprised at how agile sea lions are and how dog-like they can be, including the way they walk.
Throughout the month of October, Seal Bay is being celebrated as Park of Month – an initiative between Nature Play South Australia and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
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)
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