Australian Sea Lion and Seals

Australian Sea Lion is the best known of Australian seals.

These are some of those interesting Australian animals (along with whales and dolphins) that after evolving into a land animal, returned to the water.


But unlike whales, seals kept their fur. Other terrestrial features they have are lungs and four-limbed body. Their feet turned into flippers and their bodies were streamlined for movement in water. Seals move much quicker in water than on land, but unlike whales they are tied to land, because this is where they breed. Here are some pictures of seals and sea lions, and some sea lion and seal facts such as what is seals habitat, what do seals eat and what eats sea lions. Lower down on the page are the different species found in Australia.

Seal Pup on Beach, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
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Seals and Sea Lions in the Ocean
Before diving a seal or sea lion pumps up its oxygen supply, slows its heart rate and closes its nostrils. A seal’s body can carry three times more oxygen than ours. But adaptations vary between species. The Australian fur seal can dive down to 130m, and eared seals come to the surface to breathe every five minutes, but Elephant seals dive to 1200m and remain under water for longer than an hour!
 
Seals Swimming in Surf, Australia
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What Do Seals Eat and What Eats Sea Lions?
Water is where seals and sea lions eat (and, are eaten - they are favourite food of sharks). Seals and sea lions find their prey by sight, sound and smell and they may travel great distances while looking for food. They eat fish, crustaceans, squid, octopus and even penguins; and some eat pups of other species of seals.

Neophoca Cinerea, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
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Seals Habitat on the Land
Seals and sea lions come to land to rest and breed. In Australia, such breeding sites are found along the coast of southern Australian mainland and Tasmania. Sea lions like sandy beaches while fur seals prefer rocky shores. Both use rocky shores for breeding.

Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca Cinerea) on Beach at Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, Australia
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Male Sea Lions and Seals
Mature males arrive in the breeding sites while females are still pregnant from the previous season. Males sort out their breeding territories while females give birth to their pups before they mate.

Australian Sea Lion, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
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Baby Sea Lions and Seals
Females develop a strong bond to their pups through call and touch, which allows quick recognition of each other in large colonies. While the pup is young it's left in a rock crevice while the mother goes feeding, but it starts following mother into the water at about eight months. The pup is independent by the start of the following breeding season.

Australian Sea Lion, Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
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Australian Sea Lions and Seals
In Australia, there are three species of seals and sea lions: Australian Sea Lion, Australian Fur-seal, and New Zealand Fur-seal.

Sea Lion (Neophoca Cinerea) Lying in Sand, Seal Bay, Australia
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Australian Sea Lion
Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) is Australia’s only endemic seal. It is Australia’s second largest seal, weighing 300kg. Males are blackish brown on the back and light under the belly while the smaller females are silvery grey on the back and cream to yellow in the front. Their breeding season is from August to January. Gestation takes 14-15 months, one pup is born, and independent after a year. Australian Sea Lion lives in cool temperate waters with sandy, rocky shores. It breeds at Point La Batt in South Australia, and on islands from Kangaroo Island in South Australia to Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia. The total population of Australian Sea Lion is about 11,000-13,000 individuals and species status is secure.

Three Sleeping Sea Lions (Neophoca Cinere)On South Coast Beach, Kangaroo Island, Australia
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Australian Fur Seal
Australian Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus) is the most abundant seal in Australia. It is Australia’s largest seal, weighing up to 360kg. It has got a thick fur which in males is dark brown to brownish grey, and in females and young light brown to silvery grey. Australian fur-seals have small ears, and whiskers on the snout. Its breeding season is from November to December. Gestation takes almost 12 months, one pup is born, and independent by 12 months. Australian Fur Seal lives in cool temperate seas and rocky shores with boulders and pebble beaches. It is found around Tasmania and along the coast of Victoria, southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia. On breeding sites on nine islands, colonies consist of up to 1,500 individuals.

Australian Sea Lion, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
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New Zealand Fur Seal
The third seal in Australia, and the smallest one, is the New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus fosteri) which can weigh up to 180kg. It has got dark brown dense fur and a concave head with small ears and pointed snout with long whiskers. Its breeding season is between November and January, gestation takes eight months, and one pup is born per year which is independent after one year. New Zealand Fur Seal lives in cool temperate seas and rocky shores, and it likes protected beaches with dense vegetation for rookeries. It is found along the coast of southern Australia between Geraldton in Western Australia and Wollogong in New South Wales.

New Zealand Fur Seal, Arctocephalus Forsteri South Australia
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Where Do Sea Lions Live?
Great places to watch seals and sea lions are Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, Cape Bridgewater and Phillip Island (which is also an excellent place to watch penguins) in Victoria; Bridport and Bruny Island in Tasmania, and Seal Island and Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in south-western WA.

Australian Fur Seal (Arctocephalus Forsteri), Near Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand
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Watch Australian Sea Lions and Seals on Tours
You can take a boat tour for close-up looks of some harder reachable colonies in Esperance in south-western WA, Stanley in Tasmania, and Phillip Island in Victoria.
 
















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