Friday, June 12, 2009

day 11

We're at day 11 on our fabulous Rotto sojourn, but this post is about day 9.

Read on for the hard-hitting report which may or may not be in the Post...

A large male known to authorities slept it off on the beach in front of Rottnest Island’s Quokka Arms hotel this week.

The 1.5m-long rare Australian sea lion was washed up in Thomson Bay on Wednesday morning.

It could have been exhausted and blown off course by stormy weather the night before, or deliberately taken refuge from the wind and rain, experts said.

Holidaymaker Kym Cohen was the first to discover the sea lion, at half-past seven in the morning.

She was worried the big mammal was dead, and whistled to see if it was awake.

“It lifted its head and looked at me, and then plonked back down,” Mrs Cohen said.

At first she thought it was a seal.

“I’d seen seals near the island’s West End the other day, and I thought he was a bit far from home.”

The animal was wet, covered in sand and lying on its side with its eyes closed.

“It has scars and old wounds, but I couldn’t see any fresh injuries,” Mrs Cohen said.

Another bystander called a Rottnest Island Authority ranger, who came and inspected the sea lion.

He took photos and emailed them to Department of Environment and Conservation marine mammal specialist Doug Coughran.

A fence was erected on the beach around the sea lion.

Sea lions have big teeth and can be aggressive.

They can weigh up to 300kg.

Senior Constable Matt Oakley from Rottnest police said sea lions were rarely washed up in Thomson Bay.

“About half a dozen live at Dyer Island, near Henrietta Rocks,” Snr Const. Oakley said.

“They come in and sun themselves on the beach there where it’s quieter.

“This one was probably exhausted by the storm on Tuesday night and ended up here.

“He’s just having a rest.”

Snr Const. Oakley was glad the sea lion was washed up on the popular beach on a quiet winter weekday, instead of a busy summer weekend.

Mr Coughran told the POST the sea lion was well-known to him.

“He normally lives at Carnac Island and Dyer Island,” Mr Coughran said.

“In the wild sea lions live to about 12 years old, and this bloke is about 10.

“We all start to look pretty ugly when we get old.”

Older sea lions lose their rank to younger animals, and they often ‘haul out’ of the water to recuperate on a beach.

“But normally it’s out of sight of the public,” Mr Coughran said.

“The rangers sent us very good diagnostic photos, and the sea lion’s body condition was very good.”

Australian sea lions are rare: there are only about 10,000 in existence.

They live in WA and South Australia and are protected by government legislation.


  1. Anonymous4:24 PM

    I assume you didn't check it's temperature with a rectal thermometer David.

  2. Anonymous4:36 PM

    Darn, that last post shouldn't have had an apostrophe for its. Also, what tune did Kym whistle? The WA jazz group Hip Mo Toast have one titled 'The sealed kiss' on their album Mischievous Girl.

  3. How exciting!
    I have a vivid memory of swimming at about that spot as a kid. A seal surfaced next to me and blew me fish- flavoured kisses. Needless to say, I walked on water to get to the beach. Scared the bejesus out of me!