The Australian Sea Lion is the only pinniped species endemic to Australia. It has a blunt snout with small tightly rolled external ears. Males are a dark blackish or chocolate brown colour, with blondish white fur extending from the top of the head to the nape of the neck. The neck is broad and obscure and the forequarters very large; the foreflippers are also large and broad. Females are silvery ash-grey above and yellow to cream underneath (Gales 2008). Pups are dark chocolate brown to charcoal in colour at birth and lighten to a smoky grey before becoming brown. However, the pelage of pups up until their moult at around 4−5 months of age is highly variable. After moulting the coat of a juvenile is similar to that of an adult female. Males reach a length of 185–225 cm from head to tail, while females reach a length of 130–185 cm. Males weigh 180–250 kg, whereas females weigh 65–100 kg.
Australian Sea-lion |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Neophoca cinerea
Impacts may be synergistic as plastic particles attract heavy metal particles; and climate impacts such as warming sea temperatures can enhance the effects (R McIntosh 2018. pers comm August).
Climate change could also increase the levels of mortality from hookworm (see below).
Climate change Sea level rise potential Most breeding colonies of Australian Sea Lions are on very and wave low lying islands.
Under future climate change scenarios; it is wash events projected that sea levels may rise by up to 82 cm by 2100; from 2005 levels (IPCC 2014).
Climate change is also projected to result in an increased frequency and likelihood of extreme weather events (IPCC 2014).
Seal pups can be washed off rocks during bad weather; which may occur more often under climate change.
Temperature potential Global mean surface temperature is projected to increase by rise up to 4.8 C by 2100; from 2005 levels (IPCC 2014).
Experiments on captive Australian Sea Lions; Australian Fur Seals and Long nosed Fur Seals suggest that Australian Sea Lions have less flexibility in their physiology to adjust to changes in water temperature; and will be less resilient in a changing climate (Ladds et al. 2017).