After 300 years, endangered New Zealand sea lions are returning to their former territory along the coasts of southern New Zealand! One result of this return: Fun encounters between humans and these golden-haired, big-eyed creatures.
“It’s pretty similar to what you expect in dogs,” said Jordana Whyte of the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust. “You get a whole range of personalities.”
Dairy farmer Case Malone found a sea lion and pup in the doorway of his hay barn. When he first saw the sea lion, he thought he was seeing a common seal. Then he noticed the tracking collar.
Malone called the conservation department. The local conservation ranger, Charlie Barnett, identified the sea lion as Matariki, one of only seven breeding females in the area.
“She was quite cunning,” says Barnett. “She managed to find an elusive way to get away from males, by swimming up a stream and tucking herself up in the bush there. . . . Sea lions usually aren’t big fans of fresh water, so it was quite an interesting adaptation.”
Giving birth in a barn is unusual for a sea lion. Normally, New Zealand sea lions pup in the forest. They are the only pinniped t0 do so.
Conservationists tag the pups each year and follow their movements.
One young sea lion was tracked over 390 miles through a featureless ocean in the seven months between January and August!
Mother sea lions in the region dive an average of 130 meters to find fish for their pups.
One young sea lion entered through automatic doors and joined swimmers in the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool. He left the pool in apparent boredom after all of the people evacuated. Then, when the people returned, he wanted back in, but locked doors kept him out.
So, if you head to New Zealand for a holiday, be prepared to share the beaches and campgrounds (perhaps even pools!) with these delightful—and large—creatures.
If you do encounter one, there’s no need to be alarmed according to Whyte. “Most of the time they’re just curious and they want to investigate you.”
As winter starts to set in here in Chicago, a New Zealand beach sounds nice and warm!
Enjoy your weekend, and get in touch if you have industrial manufacturing marketing questions or thoughts to share.
Image Credit: New Zealand Geographic