Population of Australia’s only unique seal has fallen by 60%, study finds

By Graham Readfearn

Chemicals, rising sea levels and fishing practices possible causes for decline in number of endangered Australian sea lions

The population of Australia’s only unique seal has fallen by more than 60% in just four decades, with experts worried about the fate of the species, according to a study of the number pups born at breeding sites.

The number of Australian sea lion pups is now at just 2,739 across 80 known breeding sites off the coasts of South Australia and Western Australia, according to the research.

The Australian sea lion is Australia’s only endemic seal and one of four marine mammals listed as endangered, but the only one with declining numbers.

“I think we should be really concerned,” said Prof Simon Goldsworthy, a scientist at the South Australian Research and Development Institute who led the research, published in Endangered Species Research.

“I have seen some colonies halve in pup production in a decade. Seeing these declines has been really worrying.”

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