26 September 2023

Rangers clear way for breeding sea lions

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The Department for Environment and Water has hailed the efforts of a team of rangers on Kangaroo Island who found and moved a giant piece of marine debris washed up in a significant sea lion sanctuary Sea Bay.

According to the Department the fast actions of the rangers protected the Sea Bay sanctuary just as the sea lions’ started their breeding season.

It said the two kilometres length of drift rope and netting appeared on the beach just as the lions began a “bumper start” of their breeding season in which about 200 pups had been born so far.

“Seal Bay is home to the third largest remaining colony of endangered Australian sea lions and estimates suggest about 250 pups will have been born by the end of the pupping season,” the Department said.

“If this number is achieved, it will be the third season in a row with increased pup production, indicating the Seal Bay colony could be on the cusp of recovery.”

Coordinator of Conservation Park Research and Operations for Seal Bay, Melanie Stonnill said the debris was a particularly long line which could have come from as far away as South America.

“There was a really high probability that it would’ve caused harm to a marine animal if we hadn’t been able to remove it,” Ms Stonnill said.

“Besides the danger of entanglement, there is also the risk of plastic ropes breaking down into micro plastics.

“These tiny pollutants are then consumed by smaller marine species and birds, poisoning organisms right down from the filter feeds to top order predators such as sea lions and sharks.”

She said monitoring of the Sea lions’ populations would continue for years to come with each year becoming a little more exciting as there are a number of 20-year-old sea lions in the colony who are still breeding and protecting pups.

More information about sea lions and their pups can be accessed at this PS News link.

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