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=’https://focusingonwildlife.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/hooker.mp4′ width=640 height=480 splashend=show splash=’https://focusingonwildlife.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_2699-2.jpg’ autoplay=false]
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.
Share this post with your friends
You may also like:
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should Europe’s Wolves be Rewilded? – [1337 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts – [1072 Views]
- Anti-bird tree spikes: we love cars so much, we destroy nature for them – [1006 Views]
- Coast Guard Rescues Sea Turtle Entangled Amid Bales of Cocaine – [999 Views]
- How Do Squirrels Deal With Cold? They May Not Feel It Like Us – [977 Views]
- Nepal’s Last Dancing Bears Have Been Rescued – [957 Views]
- Poachers Shoot Down Sea Shepherd Drone in the Gulf of Mexico – [925 Views]
- Beak fitness: New Zealand develops roadside gym for endangered keas – [899 Views]
- Florida Is ‘Raining Iguanas.’ Will The Invasive Reptiles Adapt? – [781 Views]
- In early push into Papua, palm oil firms set stage for massive forest plunder – [768 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned? – [7792 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming? – [4510 Views]
- POLL: Should the trophy hunting of bears and wolves be banned? – [4091 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts – [3859 Views]
- POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for slaughtering dolphins and whales? – [3395 Views]
- POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers in the UK be finally stopped? – [3100 Views]
- POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2873 Views]
- POLL: Should Canada ban the hunting of seals? [2667 Views]
- POLL: Should the Tories be allowed to bring back fox hunting? [2578 Views]
- POLL: Should wild elephants be sold to Chinese zoos? [2322 Views]