About Australian sea lions

Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) are part of a group known as ‘eared’ seals. They use their front flippers to prop themselves up and their back flippers to help them to ‘walk’ on land. In the water their back flippers act as a rudder.

These fascinating creatures are one of the rarest species in the world and their entire population is estimated to be less than 12,000. Of these, 85 percent live in South Australia and the other 15 percent in Western Australia.

Seal Bay is home to the third largest colony of Australian sea lions with an estimated population of 800. This is about five percent of the world's total. The Australian sea lion was nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th century. We can count ourselves lucky that places like Seal Bay exist today. 

Australian sea lions are listed as endangered and declining on the IUCN Red List. They are also listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and are protected in South Australia under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

The Australian sea lion differs from earless or ‘true’ seals (such as leopard seals) – these have no external ear flaps and can’t use their hind legs when on land.