We spend a lot of time in the Catlins area and often see sea lions but on a recent visit to Surat Bay we weren’t expecting to see one quite this close.
We were walking along the path in the dunes instead of along the beach and almost bumped into a reasonably large female seal lion. She wasn’t too worried, not wanting to disturb her (this is her home after all) we backed off down the path and watched her from a comfortable distance. As you will see by the photos below she was on a mission to get down the path and back to the sea. Along the path there are many areas where the grass has been flattened by sleeping Seal ions, that’s why we never take our dogs with us for their protection and so they don’t annoy the residents.
Adult females’ coats vary from buff to creamy grey with darker pigmentation around the muzzle and the flippers. Adult males are blackish-brown with a well-developed black mane of coarse hair reaching the shoulders. The main breeding populations are at the Auckland and Campbell Islands in the NZ Subantarctic, where approximately 99% of the species’ annual pup production occurs. At birth, pups are 70–100 cm long and weigh 7–8 kg.
New Zealand sea lions (also know as the Hooker’s sea lion) are one of the largest New Zealand animals. Adult males are 240–350 cm long and weigh 320–450 kg and adult females are 180–200 cm long and weigh 90–165 kg. For the first time in 150 years, sea lions began breeding again on the South Island coast in 1994, on the Otago peninsular. Other small populations of breeding sea lions have recently begun to establish in various parts of the Stewart Island coastline and have been observed on the Catlins coast. The lineage was wiped out by hunting, and the subantarctic lineage has since then gradually filled the ecological niche.
A young male just relaxing… Waipapa Point – We are constantly amazed at how close people get to the seal lions – I know it is tempting to get a better photo but although they look tired and slow they can move very fast.A little wave…… then back to sleep..