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Australian Sea lion

Sea-lions are 'pinnipeds', which means 'fin foot', like seals. They are not fish, but are marine mammals.

They are able to swim in extremely cold water.

Sea-lions and fur seals are similar, and are in a family known as 'eared seals'. Unlike the 'earless seals',they are quite agile on land. The front flippers are used on land to prop themselves up, and in the water to swim with. They use their back flippers rather like a leg on land, and as a rudder in the water. They have a second layer of fur under the top fur layer, and this helps keep them warm in the cold water, together with a thick layer of fat.

The Australian sea-lion is the only pinniped that is found only in Australia, living along parts of the western and southern coastline. They were once found further east, but seal hunters killed the colonies in Bass Strait towards the end of the 19th century.

Males weigh about 300 kilograms. They are about three times heavier than the females. Males have dark brown fur with pale neck and females have grey fur on their back with creamy fur on their front.

They are very social animals, and gather in groups of 10-15. They spend time sunbaking on sandy beaches and rocks.

They only feed at sea however. They eat fish, squid and other sea creatures.

They are excellent swimmers, able to dive and swim in very deep water. They are able to hold their breath for a long time. Sea-lions often get caught in fishing nets and lines while swimming. Being mammals, not fish, they drown if they cannot get to the surface to breathe.

The Australian sea-lion is different from other sea-lions because they have no set breeding season, and pups may be born at any time of year. The breeding takes place on rocky beaches. Pups are born and raised on land, fed on milk from their mother's body.

Having been hunted almost to extinction, the Australian sea-lion is a protected animal. It is rare and vulnerable, and it is estimated that there are about 5000 animals altogether.

This image was taken while we were fishing, it popped up casing the garfish we had on the line, image taken by Karl Knight

Australian Sea-lion (2000). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

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