World Oceans Day 8 June 2019
Although albatross are the true ocean-going species of Taiaroa Head there are many other species in the Otago coast area that depend on the ocean. One of these is the nationally critical New Zealand sea lion.
Although unlikely that we will see a New Zealand sea lion on Royalcam even though they can come ashore a fair way. They prefer sandy beaches over the rocky coastline around Taiaroa Head. They have at times, however been seen on the sandy area at Pilots Beach and are a natural predator of Little penguins. Penguins are not a great meal for sea lions however as there are too many feathers.
Sea lions are fully protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.
Visitors to the surrounding Otago beaches may come across them, sometimes unexpectedly. It is best to check that what looks like a log, is not a sleeping sea lion. They can move fast across land when they want to, it is best to give them space.
Like the albatross is takes a sea lion a long time to raise their young, a sea lion pup is dependent on its mother’s mild for a year before becoming independent. They are vulnerable to dog attacks during this time. So, if walking your four-legged friend at the beach, be sure to have them on a lead and at least 20m away from any sea lion. Check out our ‘Lead the way’ programme and spread the work amongst your friends and family.
Here is a handy identification guide for fur seals and sealions which you could come across on the coast of Otago
What to do, and not do if you come across a fur seal or sea lion
Albatross are true ocean-going species, travelling around the Southern Ocean for around 85% of their lives. After fledging and learning to forage for themselves the juveniles migrate the ~9000km across the Pacific Ocean to the waters of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. The Humboldt Current which flows from Antarctica to off the coast of northern Peru provides rich feeding grounds. They will round the horn of South America and feed off the west coast of South America before migrating through South African and Australian waters before coming back to New Zealand to breed.
There are fishery interactions between species like NZ sea lions and albatross. When you look at this global fishing watch map it is not hard to see why.