Around one-third of Kangaroo Island is covered in national park, which provides a natural environment for all kinds of wildlife. One experience not to be missed when visiting Kangaroo Island is seeing the sea lions at Seal Bay.
Seal Bay Kangaroo Island
Seal Bay is part of the Seal Bay Conservation Park on the southern coast of Kangaroo Island.
It is a well re-known tourist attraction on Kangaroo Island and one of Australia’s top wildlife attractions.
Given a 4 ½ star rating on Trip Advisor, Seal Bay is a must visit if you are holidaying on Kangaroo Island and looking for a wildlife experience with a difference.
Australian sea lions are one of the rarest species globally, with less than 12,000 left in the world.
5% of the world’s sea lions are in Seal Bay.
While it is the 3rd largest colony in Australia, this colony is about 800 strong and numbers are slowly diminishing.
Australian Sealion Facts
In Australia 85% of sea lions are found in South Australia, the rest reside on the Western coast of Australia.
Are sea lions endangered?
Yes, they are classed as an endangered and declining threatened species.
Sea lion colonies are what they call a ‘closed’ colony.
Seals breed within the colony with females and pups returning to the same colony.
Males are only mature when 8yrs old, and females when 3yrs old.
Since a pregnancy lasts nearly 18 months, the longest of any seal species, one understands their slow population growth.
Threats To Sea Lions
And their biggest threat? Yes, the usual suspects.
Human intervention and injuries from older and larger aggressive sea lions.
But marine debris, pollution, and boat injury are huge offenders, and areas which could be better addressed.
What Do Sea Lions Eat
Well, penguins are not on the Australian sea lion diet.
Despite being blamed in the popular press for the severe recent decline of the population of the Little penguins on Kangaroo Island, they are an unlikely culprit.
And no, they don’t compete for food with the neighbouring New Zealand fur seals either.
Australian sea lions are classically bottom feeders looking for rays and crustaceans, while fur seals are in the mid zones.
When feeding, they travel for 70 to 100km leaving their pups alone and unprotected.
Now that’s what I call risky business!
Seal Bay Tours
Gone are the days in the early 1980s where you literally could walk on the beach in and around the Australian sea lions.
Now to better protect the colony (and humans from the 100 to 350kg seals!), access to Seal Bay beach and its seals is much more controlled.
Nevertheless, a Seal Bay tour wildlife experience is one of a kind in Australia and so worth it.
An impressive well-constructed boardwalk with viewing platforms now looks over the sand dunes and beach.
As well, there are steps down to the sand for the guided beach walks.
Sea lions can be seen swimming and playing in the ocean.
They come up on to the beach to relax or sleep.
You can often see suckling babies and mums, not only on the beach but also in the dunes or under the boardwalk.
Seal Bay Guided Tour
Get up to within 10m of seals on the sand, great for close up photography.
These tours leave almost hourly and are guided by knowledgeable and friendly Tour Guides.
For 45mins, learn all about the seals, their habits, research and conservation efforts, while enjoying a precious 10 minutes on the beautiful beach next to the seals.
It’s worth noting that the earlier or later tours have fewer people, although each tour is limited to 12 people anyway and after your tour, you can also access the boardwalk too.
What an amazing and truly memorable experience.
Don’t let the price scare you away as it’s worth every cent!
Prices: Adult $35.50, Concession $28.50, Child $20.00, Family $86.50
Boardwalk Self-Guided Tour
While a cheaper option, this is still excellent value.
The elevated well-constructed boardwalk is an easy walk with great interpretive informative signs along the way.
Take a camera and binoculars if you wish but seals are often around and below you in the dunes or under the boardwalk. And you can take as long as you want.
What an unforgettable, memorable wildlife experience with sea lions.
Prices: Adult $16.00, Concession $13.00, Child $10.00, Family $42.50
This starts at 5 or 6 pm, depending on the time of year, and goes for 2hrs.
Timed for the ‘golden hour’, it’s great for lovers of wildlife and sunset landscape photography.
Spend a whole two hours walking within 10m of the colony as it settles in for the evening, with no-one else around to disturb the peaceful scene.
Prices: $150 per person. Tours run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only, and are restricted to 12 people only.
Bookings require seven days notice, so plan ahead with the most accurate weather forecast you can find.
Behind The Scenes Research Tour
This new and exciting tour runs from October to April. For almost two hours, enjoy being with a Senior Tour Guide and learn about the latest research or get hands-on and help enter data into a scientific app.
Prices: $200 per person (minimum age is 16), from 7.15am and 5 pm.
How to get to Seal Bay
Seal Bay is about 39km from Kingscote heading south along the South Coast Road after reaching Cygnet River then onto the Seal Bay Road for 12km.
Both are sealed roads and in good condition.
You can self-drive to Seal Bay or visit during a commercially operated Kangaroo Island Tour.
Opening hours are Sunday to Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, all year round.
Read this post for more things to do in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.