The past weekend I joined a trip organized by the ISSU, Internation Students Support Unit (or something similar), to go to Australia’s third biggest island, Kangaroo Island. The trip was guided by an awesome Australian girl called Ngaire, and the sixteen of us traveled in a minibus all around the island and got to see and explore a lot of magnificent sights.
As we, on the first day of the tour, stopped at the famous Seal Bay, about 45 minutes outside of Kingscote, I was very excited. The Seal Bay Conservation Park is a large sandy beach and dune where the Australian sea lions rest and have babies.
Together with a guide we made our way down the boardwalk; we hadn’t even stepped onto the actual beach yet when one of the girls in front discovered to sleeping seals at the side of the wooden bridge we were on. Everybody started oohing and aahing and the camera flashes seemed to never stop. But as we made it onto the beach nobody said a word. The silence spoke volumes. The entire sand bed ahead of us was full of sea lions in different sizes. Some where sleeping, some where sunbathing, some where swimming and jumping in the waves, and some of the youngsters were playing a friendly game of catch. It was such a powerful thing to stand there, watching these wild animals in their natural environment.
The beach itself was beautiful too. Clear, turquoise water as far out as we could see, pure white sand that felt like silk on hiker toes, the sun shining from a clear blue sky, the grass and bushes slowly waving in the wind and all of it framed by enormous, dramatic cliffs on both sides, making the panoramic view look like a postcard from paradise. It was a pretty nice home to have.
The guide was very careful to point out that we were visiting the sea lions, not the other way around. We had to keep a safe and respectful distance and if they seemed to wanna cross our path and walk into the sand dunes, then we had to move. Especially the big males demanded our respect as they way around 300 kilos and were currently on the hunt for pretty sea lion girls to date.
The sea lions spend around three days out at sea, hunting for fish, avoiding sharks and constantly swimming around. Then they return to their home, in this case the Seal Bay Conservation Park, and rest for three days. This rare, endangered species is protected by Australian Law and the beach itself can only be visited with a guide who keeps a close eye on the animals as well as the tourists. The group of sea lions living on Kangaroo Island is the third biggest in Australia.
As everybody was snapping shot after shot of the beautiful animals, I could help but wondering what they were thinking. Why do they keep coming back to this beach where annoying Europeans and intruding Americans keep bothering them with shouts, flashes and sudden, unpredictable movements? Isn’t there somewhere more private where they could go? I asked the guide this very question and his answer made me smile. He said:
“Wouldn’t you also prefer to come back if your home was as beautiful as this?”