Watching sea lions

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In Western Australia’s Perth Metropolitan area, Australian sea lions can be seen basking on the shores of islands such as Penguin, Seal and Carnac or swimming through the waters of the marine park as they hunt for prey and investigate their surroundings. While sea lions can be playful in the water, they are large animals that can be unpredictable in their movements. Sea lions have been known to bite people when aggravated. State regulation does not permit people to land on Seal Island and you should not get too close to sea lions even on islands where you are permitted to land. If a sea lion approaches you in the water, swim away or remove yourself from the water to ensure your safety and the welfare of the sealion.

Australian sea lions travel large distances to find food and mates, which means that getting enough rest is very important!  Being repeatedly disturbed by human onlookers has a potential for affecting the health of these animals, as it can cause stress and prevent them from recovering from their large journeys.  Over the long-term, reduced health can lead to sickness or even death in severe cases.  Remember to keep your distance – if your presence is disturbing the animals or causing them to leave the area, please move away.

Although these guys appear friendly and docile, the male sea lion can weigh up to 300 kilograms and supports a jaw frame that matches that of a bear. Deceivingly, sea lions are highly mobile on and off the land and, if intimidated, can easily outrun a person. They can also carry the disease tuberculosis.

IMG_8918It is not permitted to approach a sea lion on land. To ensure your own safety and reduce disturbance to resting sea lions, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) asks that visitors please:

• Maintain a distance of at least 10 metres from any sea lion hauled out
• Do not get between sea lions and the water
• Do not encircle sea lions
• Do not attempt to induce sea lions to re-enter the water
• Supervise children at all times
• If approached by a sea lion in the water, move away or leave the water so as to not encourage interaction

Remember that some areas, such as Seal Island in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, are sanctuary zones – this means they are not to be entered by unauthorised people or vessels.

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