SARDI Aquatic Sciences, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)
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This aim of this project is to identify and map critical habitats for Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) to assess the ecological value of different habitats for sea lions and identify risks to their populations. Through this project we collected animal-borne video, GPS, time-depth and accelerometer/magnetometer data from eight adult female Australian sea lions from Olive Island (n=4) on the western Eyre Peninsula and Seal Bay (n=4) on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. Sea lions were instrumented with animal-borne cameras with integrated accelerometers/magnetometers (CATS Cam, 135 x 96 x 40 mm, 400 g) and satellite-linked GPS loggers with integrated time-depth recorders (SPLASH-10, Wildlife Computers, 100 x 65 x 32 mm, 200 g). Sea lions were sedated and anaesthetised and bio-logging instruments were glued to the pelage on the dorsal midline. Bio-logging instruments were recovered after a single foraging trip (~1-6 days). Populations of the endangered Australian sea lion have declined by >60% over the last 40 years. Australian sea lion populations show a marked uneven distribution in abundance across their range, which suggests that localised risk profiles from threats vary at small spatial scales. Fine scale differences in habitat-use are thought to underpin these differences. However, knowledge of the habitats that are critical to Australian sea lions is poor and their vulnerability to human impacts and threats at the fine-scale is not well understood. The data collected in this project provides fundamental information on critical benthic habitats for Australian sea lions, the differences in foraging behaviour of individual sea lions and their prey preferences. The information collected under this project improves our understanding of threats to sea lion populations and will support future conservation actions to recover the species. EMBARGO Data is currently embargoed until June 2024 and will be made available via this record at that time.