Southern New Zealand is home to the worlds most endangered sealion. Most live at two locations on the Auckland Islands, 200 miles south of Stewart Island. But there is a small but significant population including breeding females on the Otago coast from Dunedin south to the Catlins coast. And at Port Pegasus on the south east coast of Stewart Island is a small sub colony of males, with an occasional female.
These large animals must have been highly prized by Maori as aproteinsource, and although the early European sealers did take them mainly for their oil, their skins were less favoured in comparison to the far more numerous “Fur Seal” . They are now totally protected
These animals are BIG. A big “beach master” male will weigh up to 450 kg, and up on his flippers almost looks me in the eye, with the females perhaps half that. And they are fast on land, almost as fast as I can run. How fast can I run… slightly faster than a sealion !!!. Prudence (and regulations) indicate keeping a good safe distance, however as they often favour lounging in quite dense cover ashore its quite common to literally trip over an animal a considerable distance from the shore. If chased I have discovered a handful of sand thrown in the face invariably turns the persuing animal away.
“Hookers” are animals with charisma. The females in particular seem to enjoy tactile contact, and in the colonies will form big heaps. The pups also will group in creches, although this is more as protection against the big harem bulls who will flatten single pups when charging towards an interloper.
Youg males in particular are great fun, as like youg males everywhere they are full of them selves, always pushing and shoving and would appear to egg each other on when a group came across us in an inflatable. This would involve closer and closer lunging passes, and occasionally even flippers up on the side of the boat peering in. Which as can be imagined was somewhat startling for our clients, and usually earned the animal a cuff around the ears with a paddle.
Thirty odd years ago a female gave birth at Mill Creek and for many weeks residents would find”Samantha” and/or her pup in their garden and a few years ago we had a young male take up residence in the village. On a couple of ocasions he was found inside the hotel, having taken advantage of an open door. He had great fun chasing the tourists along the waterfront, and at one stage took up residence under the library.
Nothing Quite Like a Good Scratch
[flowplayer src=’http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/hooker.mp4′ width=640 height=480 splashend=show splash=’http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_2699-2.jpg’ autoplay=false]
Share on social media:
You may also like:
Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- Saudi authorities sound warning on illegal hunting in rented farms [1489 Views]
- POLL: Should the harvesting of wild turtles be banned? [915 Views]
- POLL: Should this Canadian pipeline project be scrapped to save killer whales? [870 Views]
- The man saving 30,000 seabirds [787 Views]
- 7 stunning forest birds we could soon lose forever [738 Views]
- Another Hen Harrier shot dead sparking fears for rare bird of prey [663 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [658 Views]
- POLL: Should the bear bile trade ban be strictly enforced? [636 Views]
- 13 birds that aren’t for the faint of heart [633 Views]
- POLL: Should hare coursing be banned in Ireland? [544 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [41916 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16649 Views]
- POLL: Should the annual Canadian seal hunt be banned? [14027 Views]
- POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [13443 Views]
- POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11093 Views]
- POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8457 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [8416 Views]
- POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8287 Views]
- POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8019 Views]
- POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7319 Views]