Fun Facts!

Sea lions can be sneaky - this one is hiding amongst sea birds!

Sea lions can be sneaky – this one is hiding amongst sea birds!

Q: Where do Austalian sea lions occur?

A: Australian sea lions are endemic to southern and south-western Australia, that means they do not occur anywhere else. Their specific range is from The Pages, South Australia to Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia.

Q: What do Australian sea lions feed on?

A: Australian sea lions are benthic foragers which means they feed on prey living on the bottom of the sea. They feed on bottom-dwelling fishes, but do also like crustaceans (like lobsters) as well as cephalopods like octopus and squid too.

Q: What are haul-out islands?

A: Haul-out locations are places on land which are used by sea lions to rest.

Most sea lions haul out to rest on the shore - but some rest on each other!

Most sea lions haul out to rest on the shore – but some rest on each other!

Q: How many sea lions are living in the Perth Metropolitan Area?

A:   This is a good question!  We do not have an absolute number of sea lions using this area.  This is where an effective photo identification method would come into place.  If we could accurately identify individual sea lions, we would be able to estimate the number of individuals using the Perth Metropolitan Area.  A very rough guess is around 200 to 300 sea lions using this area.

Q: How many sea lions are usually on Seal Island?

A: This depends quite heavily on the time in the breeding cycle. There are only male sea lions using Seal Island as a haul-out (resting) island. During the breeding season, that means every 17-18 months, the sea lions migrate to the breeding islands and there are days without any sea lions on Seal Island. During the peak season, there can be more than 30 sea lions resting on the island.

Q: Which are the closest breeding islands for sea lions in the Perth Metro Area?

A: The closest breeding islands, where sea lions mate and females have their pups, are in Jurien Bay, approximately 200 to 300 km north.  There are also some breeding islands in the Abrohlos Islands which is off Geraldton, WA. The breeding islands off the coast off Albany and Esperance are at least 1000 km away.

Pup suckling from Mum

Pup suckling from Mum

Q: When are Australian sea lions having their pups?

A: Females are having their pups non-seasonally every 17-18 months.  This is an unusual breeding cycle and unique among pinnipeds.  The pupping season is also different among different locations and takes place over a relatively long period of five to nine months.

Q: How long do pups stay with their mothers?

A: Pups are usually weaned when they are about 15-18 months old and before a female has its next pup. Sometimes, when females don’t have a pup in the consecutive breeding season, they may have their pup suckle for another whole cycle of 17-18 months.

Q: How many Australian sea lions are there and how many are in Western Australia?

A: The total population of Australian sea lions has been estimated in 2008 to be less than 15,000 individuals. About 14% of the whole population is estimated to occur in Western Australia (WA). This means, that in 2008 there were about 2100 sea lions in WA.

Q: Why are Australian sea lions listed as endangered?

Sea lions are often tired after foraging trips, so might be just resting on the beach.  If you are concerned, contact DEC.

Sea lions are often tired after foraging trips, so might be just resting on the beach. If you are concerned, contact DEC.

A: Australian sea lions were declared endangered in 2012 on the IUCN ‘Red List of endangered species’ due to their relatively small total population size, widely scattered colonies and no sign for recovery. Some populations have been declining which puts smaller colonies at risk of extinction.

Q: What shall we do if we find a sea lion on a beach?

A: DPaW (Department of Parks and Wildlife) recommends that you always keep a minimum distance of 10 m from any sea lion. If you see a sea lion on a beach and you have a dog with you, please keep your dog away from the sea lion. Sea lions are wild animals and might carry tuberculosis.  Sea lions have to travel long distances and dive to great depths repeatedly to catch enough prey, and are tired when they return from a foraging trip.  Sea lions on the beach might be recovering from one of these trips. If you think a sea lion is not well, please let DPaW know and one of the marine park rangers will check on it.

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