7:30pm – Sunday, October 3 on ABC1
The Ocean’s Supermum is a one-hour natural history documentary featuring previously unknown underwater behaviour, and a passionate and engaging scientist whose mission it is to unlock the secrets of the most devoted of all marine mothers – the Australian sea lion.
Filmed on Dangerous Reef and the surrounding waters of South Australia, The Ocean’s Supermum reveals the Australian sea lion’s devotion to her young and the continuation of her lineage against historical foes and the forces of environmental change.
Australian sea lions are among the most playful and engaging of all sea creatures. They are also one of the most endangered pinnipeds in the world. Their fragile existence owes much to their peculiar feeding and nurturing habits, which, until now, have remained a mystery to science.
Like Aboriginal songlines, the sea lion ‘songlines’ are the information on feeding grounds passed down through the maternal line over generations. Not only is this information particular to every individual mother but it differs from colony to colony. And it is secret – even scientists don’t know where the sea lions feed or what they feed on. But one man is trying to find out.
Marine biologist Associate Professor Simon Goldsworthy is on a quest. His goal is to discover where the sea lions feed, what they eat and how important these sea lion ‘songlines’ are to their survival. In this documentary he explores how individuals in neighbouring colonies differ and how their staggered breeding cycles may be the sea lions’ unique way of sharing scarce food sources.
The Ocean’s Supermum follows Simon on this journey. Although it’s a difficult task in challenging environments, he uses the latest technology in his pursuit for answers. Simon and his team use helicopters, satellite tracking, depth loggers, a ‘crittercam’, and DNA sampling to find answers to one of wildlife’s last great secrets.