Mel - Interpretive Officer

How did you come to this job?

I studied a degree in Tourism Business Management in Adelaide and started a senior guide role at Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island.

I would take short tours with Lodge guests to Seal Bay and I always struggled to tear myself away from the seals – I could watch them all day! I started as a guide at Seal Bay that summer.

What do you most like about your work?

Working with a great team of guides who are passionate about animals and conservation – we have a lot of fun. I also love working in the salty air, being active and getting to meet interesting people from around the globe.

What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen at work?

It was during a big storm and the Southern Ocean was going wild. I was huddled on the beach with a tour group. Suddenly we saw a chocolate-brown pup waddle out of the dunes, followed by another, and then another. There were 9 pups all in a row sliding down the dunes and letting themselves be taken out by the white wash – they were jumping out of the water and surfing – it was magic.

What fascinates you about the Australian sea lion?

I love observing how the sea lions interact with each other. Their behaviour and gestures are very subtle, the slightest head flick from a massive bull can send another 350kg bull running scared into the water. Their relationships are a mystery to us, but there is definitely a hierarchy on this beach and it’s fascinating to watch.

What’s your favourite thing to do in your own time?

I love to walk my dog and swim at Pennington Bay on the South Coast. It must be one of the most ruggedly beautiful beaches in the world, yet we’re usually the only ones enjoying it.