Posted by: nzsealion | October 5, 2008

Interview with Will Hayward

Will is a marine science student at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.  Will is currently working on his thesis project, investigating the running biomechanics of the New Zealand Sea Lion. Here Will shares how he became interested in Sea Lion biomechanics and what his research is specifically investigating.

You can also check out Wills research below in more detail. Will is planning on carrying out this research over the Summer, so we hope to include an update on how his research is progressing over the coming months. N.B Microsoft Powerpoint is needed to copy this file.zenos-paradox03. Many thanks to Will for his time and use of his presentation for the purpose of this blog.

Posted by: nzsealion | September 30, 2008

Sea Lions and our rubbish

Yoshiko Cowell writes;

The Otago Daily Times showed one of the problems that the NZ sea Lion faces as a result of the rubbish in the oceans. This can have tragic consequences and the sea lion featured faced certain death if it were not for the Department of Conservation staff removing a nylon line which was wrapped tightly around his neck and causing a 1.5cm deep wound. It was thought that because sea lions are very playful that it had found this piece of nylon in the water and began playing with it.  The sea lion was a 3 year old male and does not reach full size until it is around 6 years of age. The bulk of the growth for males is around the neck area which ends up looking like a mane and this is where the Sea Lion gets the name “Lion” from. As a result of growing it would have ended up killing the sea lion, not to mention the pain it has and would have suffered. The sea lion was first spotted 2 months ago in the Otago Harbour and was tracked to Shag River recently. As the sea lion is a wild animal, it had to first be caught (not easy) in a net and then injected with a sedative. The nylon thread was then removed and  sea lions have an excellent ability to heal from wounds.

Department of Conservation staff said that entangled netting, nylon threads and strapping was removed from about 3 seals per year.

Posted by: nzsealion | September 27, 2008

Interview with Brian Templeton

Brian Templeton is the general manager of Elm Wildlife Tours a company that specialises in wildlife tours on the otago Peninsula. As well as showcasing the diversity of wildlife on the Peninsula, Elm Wildlife Tours is a compnay committed to the conservatio of animals in the area. Here Brian shares some thoughts on what his company does with respect to sea lions and the importance of conservation on the Peninsula.

Posted by: nzsealion | September 15, 2008

Filming Sea Lions and Amelie

Yoshiko Cowell writes;

I went out to the Peninsula beaches and followed Amelie around as she used the radio transmitter to find the female sea lions that she had tagged. It was difficult to find them as they hide very well but with the aid of the transmitters, we found Leonie with her pup.  I took some footage of Amelie doing her work and are hoping to have it on the blog site very soon.

Andrew and I went to visit Ruby the sea lion whom has been in the news lately. She is from the Subantarctic Islands and is not related to Mum. All the other female sea lions around the Otago area are descendents from Mum. So it would be interesting to see if Ruby decides to start breeding here. Ruby initially spent several weeks in Oamaru and is now using Kettle Park, Dunedin as her place to rest. As sea lions are social animals it is thought that she likes to be around the passers by and people playing sports at Kettle Park. There has been a fence errected for her so that she stays in the bush area and does not go onto the park itself. When we were there filming several people and dogs walked by as she slept and looked up occassionally at the passersby.

I have put together a short film of Ruby please check out it below.

Posted by: nzsealion | September 10, 2008

A visit to Sandfly Bay

If you ever want to view sealions in their natural habitat, then Sandfly Bay is the perfect place to do it. Named for what occurs when the wind is up, Sandfly Bay is situated just 15km from the hum of central Dunedin, New Zealand. Although so close to the city it feels like it could be a million miles away.



Google maps is a useful resource for directions or just call into the information centre located on the West side of the Octagon in the heart of Dunedin City. Once there it is just a short but steep walk down the sand dunes and onto this beautiful stretch of coastline.



And splayed across the coastline like washed up flotsam are an armada of sealions. On the day that I visited the bay I viewed over 20 sealions all taking life very casually, relaxing in the sun.




But Sea Lions arent the only visitors to these shores and it is a perfect opportunity to see some of the other wildlife that call this beach home. Towards the far end of the beach and a short walk up the hill is a hide from which you can view the endangered yellow eyed penguin.



Although none were making their way up the beach when I was there, the perfect time to see them is early evening when they make their way to their nests following a days fishing.It is important to keep out of sight of these guys as they are pretty shy and won’t continue onto their nests if they feel threatened.




Another animal to make an appearance at the Bay is the New Zealand Fur Seal. Like the sealion they to were nearly wiped out following the arrival of Polynesians and Europeans to New Zealand. Today though their numbers are increasing and it was cool to see one enjoying the sun, lying on the rocks towards the far end of the beach.



Like the Yellow-eyed penguin , it is important to remain a reasonable distance from these guys as well as any disturbance will see them scuttling back to the sea. All in all it is a wicked place to check out some of Otagos wildlife on a good or even not so good day.








Posted by: nzsealion | September 3, 2008

Media Portrayal

Yoshiko Cowell writes;

The NZ sea lion appeared in the Otago Daily Times on the 3rd of September. The heading was “What are you doing on my Beach?” and photos of a young sea lion. One photo had the sea lion with its mouth open pointed  at seagulls in the air and another with its mouth open heading towards people who were running away. The photos alone made the sea lion look aggressive but then the comment by the photographer was that the sea lion appeared to be bad tempered, charging around the beach, snarling at beach-goers, kayakers and surfers. This reconfirmed what people would easily interpret the photos as. However there was a comment by the Department of Conservation staff saying that the sea lion could have been playing. When I have observe the way that sea lions interact with each other they can appear aggressive but they do seem to be play fighting instead as there are no big wounds and they like to be around each other. They are very sociable and because they are wild big animals they probably do appear to play aggressively to us. So this unfortunately gives the sea lions an impression of an aggressive animal. It highlights the importance of the role that the media play in influencing how we think about an animal.

Posted by: nzsealion | May 26, 2008

Sealion Films

I was just searching on the internet the other day and came across this website It was created by Alastair Jamieson and Kat Baulu, both graduates of the University of Otago’s post graduate diploma in natural history filmmaking. Part of their submission for the diploma was to make a half hour natural history documentary.

Their documentary features Mum the matriarch of the Peninsula breeding population and her latest pup. The story follows the pup in the weeks immediately following its birth and the challenges it faces during this time. A short preview of the film can be viewed on their website and is worth checking out to see some on the sealions on the peninsula and to have a look at some of the work coming out of the University.

Posted by: nzsealion | May 25, 2008

Sea Lions Media Update

Yoshiko Cowell writes;

The update of Amelie Auge research on the Sea Lions appeared in the Otago Daily times.

The initial results show the the Otago Peninsula population has better feeding grounds to that of the Auckland Island population. From the Peninsula, the Sea Lions are swimming from a few kilometres to about 24km off the coast. Auckland Island Sea Lions, however, make a 350km return trip. The female Sea Lion body weight is much higher too in the Peninsula population.  This confirms that the Otago Coastline is a great feeding place for marine wildlife. 

The two female results released were;

Honey (5 years old). She is diving and feeding is water 80 to 100m deep. Her maximum dives have been 120metres. She travels 24km offshore.

Aurora (4 years old) dives much shallower 30-50metres and her deepest dive is 100metres. She also feeds closer to shore about 16km off shore. 

Posted by: nzsealion | May 20, 2008

Steve Ting’s Sea Lion Film

Steve Ting is a science communication student who has made a film about the day we went to see and film Sea Lions.

Check out his blog at

Posted by: nzsealion | May 1, 2008

A day with the Pups

Yoshiko Cowell writes;
I went to the beach to film the Sea Lion’s again with two other filmmaking students. We found Sea Lion pups playing in pools of water and the tide was out. It had been hailing and rainy weather the day before and there was a lack of adult Sea Lion’s around. Maybe they don’t like being on land when it’s hailing…..
Apparently these pups, that we saw, have moved from where their mother’s have left them. It is probably about 1km in distance and how they know these pools exist is a mystery. Maybe while their mother’s away, they explore their environment extensively. Some pups were having fun playing in the pools while others slept, one pup was even snoring. The pups in and around the pools played with any objects they could find such a seaweed and sticks. One pup approached us very fast so I only had time to take the camera with me. The pup was curious about the tripod I had left and started to mouth it. Exploring the tripod with its mouth just as any young animal would do but was alot gentler than my young dog would be. After it was satisfied of the “taste” then it moved back to the pool. I got the tripod back and was surprised to see not a scratch or bite mark on it!
We met Amelie Auge on the beach and she weighed one of the pups. The pups are now 4 to 5 months old and this pup weighed about 30kgs.
Later we saw a pup playing by itself in the pool and found that it had a cockle clamped onto its whisker. It eventually flicked the cockle off after alot of tossing and turning in the pool.


Some of the pups have now completed their moult whilst others are still going through it. See the photo, how patchy the pup looks. The brown is the old fur and the pup is turning into a grey-silver-whitish colour.



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