5 things you didn’t know about sea lions and their pups

Visit Kangaroo Island now to experience Seal Bay’s baby boom. Be in the know before you go with these fast facts.

If watching baby sea lions frolicking on the sand and taking a dip in the shallows sounds like a nice way to spend an afternoon, then a visit to Kangaroo Island’s award-winning Seal Bay is a must.

It’s now the end of the breeding season, making it the perfect time to visit if you want to see pups of all ages, just metres away.

The first pup of the season was born in May last year, and 200 pups later the final one arrived this February.

These playful and curious endangered animals can regularly be seen playing in the ocean, having swimming lessons with their mums, and learning how to forage for food.

Recent visitors have even heard pups suckling milk from their mum in the dunes near the beach. In the warmer weather pups are often seen playing in the shallow water together or soaking up some sunshine.

Seal bay pup

Fast facts

Seal Bay Site Manager Alana Binns shares these interesting facts about sea lions and their pups:

1. The gestation period for Australian sea lions is a whopping 17.6 months. After giving birth, females will typically become pregnant again within seven to 10 days.

2. The life span of an Australian sea lion ranges from 15 to 20 years. Males will mature between 10 and 12 years of age, and females from three years. The long gestation period is one of the reasons for their slow population growth, and only three out of 10 pups born will reach maturity.

3. In the first week of a pup’s life, the mum will stay on the beach caring for the pup. Gradually, the pup will begin to explore and mum will spend about 15 months teaching them everything they need to know to look after themselves.

4. About 95 per cent of pups for this breeding season have been microchipped, allowing important information to be collected by the South Australian Research and Development Institute for the Australian Sea Lion Monitoring Program. This includes monitoring the population of sea lions within the Seal Bay colony, their relationships and mortality. Ideally, fitting pups with a microchip will be the only time in their life that they will come into physical contact with humans.

5. When feeding, male sea lions can travel as far as 100 kilometres and females up to 70km from their breeding colony. Sea lions will typically spend three days away and in that time can dive between 900-1200 times.

Seal bay pup

Get up close and personal

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.

For some insider tips on what to look for when you visit, be sure to read 5 treasures in Seal Bay. Or read about Senior Guide Melanie Stonnill, who shares her experience of seeing a sea lion wander up to the carpark!

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