The Australian Sea Lion: Neophoca Cinerea

Despite the complete absence in Australia of really scary animals like lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, hippos, and grizzly bears, this country still has a fearsome reputation when it comes to killer wildlife.

A good number of our killer critters live in the sea, but the one that is partly related to the king of the jungle (by name only) has not, as far as I’m aware, ever claimed a human life.

Sea Lion

Where’s my ball?

The Australian Sea Lion

Closely related to the fur seal, our sea lions breed in the seas off the south and west coasts of Australia. Sort of from Adelaide round to Perth and then a bit north of Perth.

Sea lions are cute and funny, we all know that. I’m sure we have all seen a sea lion show somewhere or other. Aren’t they good at balancing balls on their noses or something? But I can’t imagine what it must be like to see a 600 pound sea lion waddling, naturally, along a sandy beach.

That privilege belongs to some of the lucky beach goers who live on the other side of the country from me.

I can get a digital idea of what it is like though, thanks to the AnswersinNature YouTube channel…

Apparently we have around 15,000 of them over the south western side Australia, imagine swimming with a sea lion…

Yes, great fun! Except…

This is Australia.

And Australia would not be Australia if its cute little animals didn’t have the ability to cause you serious harm. Kangaroos are cute, but they can also be vicious. Koala’s are cute, but they can also be vicious. Sea lions are cute, but guess what?

  • A Geraldton woman has undergone surgery after a frightening encounter with a sea lion off Town Beach. See thewest.com.au.
  • Monster sea lion mauls 13-year-old girl. See news.com.au
  • Horrified mum watches sea lion attack boy. See thedailytelegraph.com.au.
  • “Sea lions are usually playful, however they can be territorial and dangerous especially during the mating seasons. Accidents among divers are reported much more frequently than with sharks. Advice: get out of water if sea lions show territorial behaviour (barking), don’t swim with large males, don’t approach sea lions during the mating season.” See nativeplanet.org

It doesn’t have to be like that though, some sea lions are nice to humans. Check this out…

“Sea lions have also been reported to assist or save humans who show signs of distress in the open waters. In June 2000, Kevin Hines leaped into San Francisco Bay; he reportedly was saved by a sea lion that kept him afloat and breathing until the paramedics arrived.” See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_lion

But that was in the USA so it doesn’t really count, this blog is about life in Australia.

It has to be said that attacks on humans by sea lions are very rare indeed. That said, it does always pay to be aware of what might happen; wildlife is wildlife after all, not just here in Australia, but anywhere in the world.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Sue Court May 5, 2013, 8:03 pm | Link

    We watched one playing just like a puppy on the beach. It was picking up a big stick in its mouth, throwing it, then fetching it. When we’re kayaking they sometimes come to see out of curiosity. If we ignore them, they go away, but if we splash or spin, they join in and play. I’ve seen one jump right over the front of someone’s kayak.

    • BobinOz May 6, 2013, 2:03 pm | Link

      Yes, I imagine when they are in a playful mood, they can be great fun. Just like any wild animal though, it pays to be cautious. I assume you are over on the south/western side of Australia somewhere?

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