Seals are one of my favourite animals – they’re like the dogs of the ocean. While I was on Kangaroo Island we were desperate to see some, but the Seal Bay wildlife experience was closed when we got there. We tried to get to the beach where the seals live but it’s only accessible while the centre is opened, as you need to buy an entrance ticket. So we had to improvise. I looked up the maps and found the closest beach we could access with our 2WD car. This happened to be Bales Beach. We also saw some fur seals on other parts of the island.

Bales Beach – Australian Sea Lion (eophoca cinerea)

We found a rare sea lion resting on Bales Beach! This was the first time seeing an Australian Sea Lion for me. I’d seen New Zealand ones before but the Australians are a distinct species in a different genus. Both are endangered. Colonies were hunted in the 19th century for oil and food. These are the sea lions that people go to Seal Bay to get a glimpse of. Here on Bales Beach we were able to find just one. Check out my blogpost about other wildlife on Bales Beach here.

When photographing seals, you don’t want to get any closer than 10-15m as they can chase you. Also, disturbing them while they’re resting on the beach is just a bit rude! They spend hours hunting in the ocean which must be pretty exhausting, then come up on the beach to rest. Sometimes the sea lion would get up and yawn, only to flop back on the ground in a slightly different position and continue sleeping. 

Sea Lion Yawning
Sea Lions just want to sleep on the beach! Try not to disturb their rest.
The Southern end of Bales Beach

Fur Seals on Kangaroo Island

The more common type of seal to find on Kangaroo Island is the Long nosed seal / New Zealand Fur Seal. There are a few different names of this species between the two countries, which is a little confusing. There are two distinct fur seal species found in Australia but they are very hard to differentiate for me. We saw them incidentally a few times on our trip, in quite popular coastal spots. In Flinders Chase National Park, near Admirals Arch there’s an actual Fur Seal Lookout. Here we were able to get some good views of the seals entering and exiting the ocean. At first it can be hard to see them because they blend in with the rocks, but you’ll quickly realise there’s plenty around. Thankfully they are not an endangered species. I have seen these adorable sea doggos all around the coast, from Western Australia to New Zealand’s Milford Sound.


Bales Beach carpark – dirt road

Admirals Arch – Cape de Couedic Rd

Want to see more of South Australia? Check out these blogposts.