Catlin’s sea lions – Part 1

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.


dsc_0019dsc_0024 dsc_0023-3dsc_0026and off she goes – heading down the path.dsc_0028And not very elegantly over the rocks.

dsc_0027dsc_0030-2 dsc_0029She didn’t seem to take any notice of the people watching.

dsc_0030-3Adult 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.

dsc_0203-3This seal lion had just caught a flounder and was just off the road to the Catlins Heads.

dsc_0194Seal ions at Waipapa Point – see post

dsc_0190A stretch, then back to sleep. dsc_0188Waipapa Point

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.

dsc_0186  A young male just relaxing…dsc_0185 dsc_0184Waipapa 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.dsc_0178A little wave…… then back to sleep..

dsc_0080-2Jack’s Bay – This young male got annoyed at the other sleeping sea lion but really we think it was because some girls got very close and were quite noisy.

dsc_0079 dsc_0079-2

DSC_2064Purakaunui Bay – see postDSC_2063The following photos are taken at Surat Bay – two females and a large maleDSC_3285DSC_3284 DSC_3283 DSC_3282 DSC_3279DSC_3277There were three or four in the water but only two got out.

DSC_3276 DSC_3275 DSC_3273 dsc_0810Waipapa Point – just relaxing in the sundsc_0809Waipapa Point

dsc_0850Surat Bay with Newhaven in the background.

dsc_0851We always enjoy watching the seal lions  – check out the Catlin’s beaches and see if you can get close – but not too close to these magnificent creatures



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