Australian Sea Lions are unique to the coastlines of Western and South Australia and a group of approximately 1,000 Seal Lions called Seal Bay Conservation Park home
We had no idea this place existed but South Australia’s Seal Bay conservation is a home and sanctuary for these vulnerable listed species.
Having been hunted commercially during the 1700’s and 1800s their numbers have yet to return to pre-hunting days however there are many societies and protections in place to make this species thrive once again.
Visiting the locals at Seal Bay is one of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island and leaves you in awe as you happily snap away with the camera all day.
Mothers feed their babies, large adult bull males attempt to assert dominance over every other female, an old humpback whale skeleton washes up from decades ago there is something special about Seal bay Conservation Park and the staff that care for them.
Visitors can pay a bit more to get up close and personal with the seals through a guided beach tour or you can enjoy the views from the boardwalk above.
Where is Seal Bay Conservation Park
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Located on the southern side of Kangaroo island 45 minutes from the central town of Kingscote you can find the 1000 strong population of Australian Sea Lions.
Situated between Cape Ganteaume to the East and Vivonne Bay to the West the best way to get here is via South Coast Road, taking a detour south along Seal Bay Rd.
READ MORE: You can stop here for the morning on your way down to Flinders Chase National Park at the western most end of Kangaroo island.
Guided Tours at Seal Bay Conservation Park
The majority of the conservation park has just under 1km of timber boardwalks that take you around the habitat of the Seals, allowing you full access and great viewing of the entire coastline and mother seals and their pups on the shore line.
The other option is to take a guided tour of the park with the Ranges that care for the Seals.
The tour takes 45 minutes and guides you along the boardwalk before heading onto the beach to get up close and personal with the seals whilst still respecting their space.
The tours run from 9am till 4pm daily and cost $37 per person with additional tours running during school holidays and long weekends during Summer and Autumn.
For $16 you can opt to do the standard tour which is what we chose to do and in our opinion every bit as good as seeing the Seals up front!
Save yourself the hassle and pre-book your ride before you arrive:
Some of them even come right up close to the woodwork to sleep in the shade of the sunny day right under your feet.
If any of this falls outside your budget then you can walk through the live interactive display in the visitor centre.
Very few places in the world will give you the same up close and personal opportunity to see wildlife like Seal Bay Conservation Park whilst using the money to help preserve and re-populate the wild.
You can visit the Seal Bay Website for further information
Seal Bay Prices (Guided):
Adult: $37, Concession $29, Child $21 Family $90
Adult: $16.50, Concession $13.50, Child $10.50, Family $44.50
9:15am, 10:00am, 10.45am, 11.30am, 12.15pm, 1:15pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm
READ MORE: All our adventures on Kangaroo Island using our guide right here
About the Australian Sea Lions
The Australian Sea Lion is a species of seal only native to the shores of Australia, although there are about 7 types of Seal Lions within Australia.
Australian Sea Lions live till only about 8 to 9 years of age, and females only come into the breeding season once every 18 months.
Female Sea Lions will only breed and give birth at the place they were born at which poses difficult challenges for their numbers.
As such the Seal Bay Conservation Park on Kangaroo Island plays a vital role to the rehabilitation and conservation of the Australian Fur Seal colonies.
Book your Kangaroo Island accomodation here
Threats to Australian Sea Lions
Like a lot of Australian Marine Life, Australian Sea Lions are under threat.
Listed by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 lists the Australian Sea Lion population as Vulnerable and Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Act Global Rating.
Currently the biggest threat to conservation efforts of the Sea Lion population are gillnets; Large thin & invisible nets suspended in the water predominantly used by commercial fishing industries to catch sharks for flake according to the Marine Animal Conservation Society.
SeaLions get tangled in these nets and subsequently drown and as a result decrease their numbers across the southern parts of the ocean.
Seal Bay Conservation Park Visitor Centre
This state of the art conservation park at Seal Bay plays an important role in their conservation.
Australian Sea Lions spend 50% of their time in the water and 50% on land.
The park provides a secure, enclosed and protected area of land unhindered from the public to allow the seals to come and go as they please, giving birth to their young.
Due to this, the government of South Australia and the fisheries have agreed to a 28 kilometre ‘no-take zone’ around the southern waters of Seal Bay.
This means that no recreational or commercial fishing can take place within the no-take zone to allow the Fur Seals to roam freely as well as increasing the food available to them.
What is the aim of Seal Bay Conservation Park?
Here on Chris and Laura Travels we love spreading the word about eco-friendly tourism opportunities and activities that preserve and conserve our natural wildlife and habitat.
Seal Bay Conservation Park was awarded the advanced Eco-certification by Ecotourism Australia in 2017.
Their ecotourism practices at Seal Bay aim to educate and foster a level of understanding and appreciation for the natural world and teach people to conserve the endangered Australian Sea Lions.
One thing in particular we learnt from our time at Seal Bay Kangaroo island was where our money went.
Funds raised from visitors go towards a deworming program for the Seals that’s a world first initiative. There’s also a separate program where revenue goes towards microchipping of the seals to help the staff track the movements and patterns of the Seals as they hunt and travel to breed.