Video: Australian sea lions a playful bunch
SEALS AND SEA LIONS are marine mammals known as pinnipeds; there are 33 species worldwide. All are carnivores that hunt at sea – often for fish and squid – and breed on land; mostly in large, noisy colonies.
The Australian sea lion and Australian and New Zealand fur seals are the only species that breed on and around Australia’s mainland and near-shore islands.
These and the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic fur seals – which breed on Australian sub-Antarctic islands – belong to the ‘eared’ pinniped family: all have small outwardly visible ears.
The other five pinniped species recorded in Australian territory belong to the ‘true seal’ family: they have no outward ears and, because of their forelimb structure, move more clumsily on land. Six species either breed in Australia or are occasional visitors to our waters.
Energetic creatures, these sea lions are contributing to the recently developed national Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which employs oceanographic instrumentation on ships, moorings and buoys to map and monitor the marine environment right around Australia.
Male Australian sea lions have been selected over females for this role because they roam more widely.