Wednesday 4 January 2017

Don't Even Think About Passing Me

Real-time, like really real time- 6pm (and an interruption to my two part blog) 

What do you do when you're riding your bikes down a track through the bush and come to a skidding halt when you find a large lump of blubber blocking your way?

You ride as fast as you can back up the track and come knocking on my door to tell me there's a sealion down the track. That's what Adam(back) Briarne(front) & Renae(kneeling) did this evening; they knew I was keen to see another sealion after my early morning encounter when we first arrived at Pounawea. With two friends, we all headed back down the track on foot... find she was still fast asleep in the middle of the track. New Zealand sealions are only found in New Zealand (funny that) and are one of the rarest species of sealions in the world, numbering around 10,000.

This is a female, they are much lighter in colour than the males, predominantly a creamy grey with darker pigmentation around their flippers. They're also alot smaller (100-160kgs) than a fully grown male which can weigh in at a massive 250 to 400kgs.

It's possible that this female is in pup and due to give birth. She certainly looks fat enough. New Zealand Sealions have only recently begun re-colonising the mainland after being hunted to near extinction over 100 years ago. 

Females return to their place of birth to give birth and until recently this has been New Zealand's sub-antarctic islands. In 1993 one female, nicknamed 'Mum' had her pup on the Otago Peninsula. Now over 150 sealions live on the mainland and the Peninsula averages four new pups a year, all probably related to 'Mum'.  Sealions have also started to breed in the Catlins and on Stewart Island and because pupping usually occurs during December & January, it's might be that this one is pregnant. 

Sealions often haul themselves out from the water and into the bush to rest, although this one has come quite a way, not only swimming through the estuary and up the river, she's climbed up a winding track that has a few hairpin bends in it to the top of a small bush clad hill. The track is quite popular with local walkers, campers and their dogs, especially at low tide, as it continues around the edge of the estuary and back to camp. I wonder if she'll be there in the morning.

We left her chilling in the bush and returned to camp. Thanks guys for letting me know! 


  1. Amazing! Envy you again for this rare encounter. I wonder whether your next close encounter would be a pup, after a male, a female...This lady came so far up the hill, I couldn't help thinking how long she can stay before going back to the water? I enjoyed reading the facts about sealions very much. Glad that they are returning to the mainland. Thanks for such a lovely real-time post!

    1. Hi offstone, unfortunately she moved on later the next morning, must have smelt the high tide and shuffled back down the track and back to sea. There was no pup either- :(


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