Science, research and conservation

Scientific research into the Australian sea lion is ongoing. It includes research into population and breeding, species health, and behaviour.

For over 25 years the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) has partnered with government organisations such as the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Australian Universities and the Nature Foundation to track the population of Australian sea lions at Seal Bay and to try and determine why the population is in decline. 

This partnership provides valuable information about the health of the population of the sea lions at Seal Bay and underpins the broader management of the park so it remains a sustainable tourism destination.

All science, research and conservation activities are performed under the Australian Government’s Recovery Plan for the Australian Sea Lion. Fees collected from tours in the park go back towards the conservation and protection of the Australian sea lion.

Sea lion monitoring & tracking

A regular Australian sea lion monitoring program is in place. A monthly count of all animals in the colony is undertaken by a senior Seal Bay guide. At 3-4 months of age, each pup is micro chipped. This takes about 2 minutes and is the only time an Australian sea lion comes into contact with a human being. A long scanning pole is used to read the microchips. Micro chipping provides valuable information about colony numbers, and about the relationships between the animals.

Twice a year SARDI place a satellite tracker on a healthy bull to gather statistics on where he feeds, how deep he dives, the quality of the water he feeds in, along with other information. Sometimes you may even see a bull with a satellite tracker on.

Caring for Seal Bay

In recent times, there have been extensive, environmentally sensitive upgrades to the Seal Bay infrastructure, including the boardwalks and visitor centre.

The introduction of the Southern Kangaroo Island Marine Park protects the sea lion feeding environment from overfishing. Sanctuary zones keep them safe from entanglement in nets or from colliding with boats.