EXPEDITIONS > Seals and other species

Seals and other species

Who lives at the Neptune Islands?

The main year round inhabitants of the islands are the New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus fosteri.) In fact, the islands are home to Australia's largest fur seal breeding colony and they share the islands with a collection of other beautiful and rare creatures such as storm petrels, lizards, sea eagles, snakes, and birds.  And of course great white sharks. The sharks do not however live there year round, but merely pass through to provision themselves ready for their long migrations around Australia.

The fur seals are present all year round. In summer the pups from the previous years mating are being born, these cute little bundles of fur are completely dependent on their mums for milk in order to get fattened up and be strong enough to make their own eventual way in the world. Once the pups are born, the females are ready to mate again and so, in summer, the seasonal arrival of the large and very determind fur seal bulls occurs. The births and mating take place all through summer with the males leaving the islands for their solitary life after mating. The pups then learn to swim in the winter months. The New Zealand fur seals are listed as of Least Concern due to increases in their population sizes after the cessation of hunting, and since 2010 human interaction with them is granted only through an exemption to the Marine Mammal Act 2010.

Also present at the islands in winter are a large variety of albatross, these beautiful birds make their way north from Antartica in the winter months we often see them mingling with each other and the giant petrels who also frequent the islands.

The Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) is Australia's only endemic sea lion species. There are only about 14,000 of these animals left in the wild, which makes it one of the rarest sea lion species in the world. After years of hunting forced them to the brink of extinction, they are now given special protection by Australian State and Commonwealth Government legislation and are listed as rare by the IUCN (World Conservation Union).

The largest breeding population is situated, but there is a small breeding colony at the Neptune Islands, plus they use these islands as a haul out site also.  It has a very unusual breeding pattern, with an 18 month ongoing breeding cycle which is not synchronised between different colonies. Young can be born any time from January to June after a gestation period of about 12 months. Females give birth to only one pup and may not breed again for two to three years.

Other Species

The Neptunes are home to a number of other marine and land species and more information will be coming soon.