Although this blog is now named 'Brisbane Adventures', it is really simply about the wonderful experiences of nature I have living here in Australia. For that reason I certainly couldn't visit Kangaroo Island in South Australia and not write about it - its a nature wonderland. In fact, so much so I think a single post won't do it justice!
Many people visit Kangaroo Island to encounter the Fur-seals and Sea-lions that live on the South coast. There are three species that have set up home here: Sea-lions, New Zealand Fur-seals and Australian Fur-seals. Although the tourist guides don't warn you about the smell - the colony really stinks! The easiest way to tell them apart is mainly by colour (information from a Flinders Chase National Park notice board at Admirals Arch at the Cape du Couedic, where my photos were taken):
- Australian sea-lion females and juveniles are very pale, almost white. The bulls are dark, with a contrasting cream mane.
- New Zealand fur-seals range in colour from dark grey to brown. They have a long narrow pointed face with an upturned nose.
- Australian fur-seals range in colour from light sandy-brown to grey-brown. Their head is broader and shorter than New Zealand fur-seals.
All three species were severely hunted to the verge of extinction in the past following European settlement - seal fur and blubber was Australia's first export industry - and so today they are a protected species. In particular, the Australian sea-lion is classed as vulnerable and declining, with an estimated 14,000 individuals in the wild. However, their conservation status on Kangaroo Island and the relative abundance of the fur-seals and sea-lions now poses a major threat to the lovable Fairy Penguins, who also inhabit the island. We went on a Penguin Tour at Penneshaw during our stay, and saw around 12 penguins: parents returning from a day at sea to feed their young. Not long ago, there were hundreds of penguins all around this little coastal town, found up to 2km inland. Now, they are all but gone and our guide was absolutely ecstatic to see 12: it was the most she had seen in one night in her year on the job! Many tours don't see any - which is a severe disappointment and a serious conservation concern.