Sea lion pup

Image: Gareth Hopkins | DOC

Introduction

A five-year programme of research, management and monitoring will be carried out to stabilise and grow the New Zealand sea lion population in the future.

Highlights

This work at four breeding locations will support the New Zealand sea lion/rāpoka Threat Management Plan (TMP) 2017-2022. The locations are: the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku in the subantarctics, the Otago and Southland coast, and Stewart Island/Rakiura. 

The NZ Sea Lion Trust also supports research on New Zealand sea lion. 

Auckland Islands

New Zealand sea lion TMP goal: pup numbers continue to increase from the 2014 count

  • Demographic parameters such as adult female survival rate and pup survival rate improve
  • Pup numbers consistently above 1,575 (the 2014 pup count), and ideally over 1,965 (the 2017 pup count)

Background

Commercial whalers arrived in the Auckland Islands for the first time in 1806. Numerous exotic terrestrial mammals were introduced in the following years.

The presence of fur seals and sea lions attracted commercial activity (hunting for meat and pelts) that rapidly dropped their numbers until 1830 when these pinnipeds were almost extinct. 

The earliest record of sea lions breeding at Enderby, since the population was depleted by sealing, was in 1904 by Wilson when he wrote that there were about 200 on the beach of Sandy Bay and that there were more animals in the scrub.

Intermittent observations occurred between 1942 and 1994 and a yearly pup count has been undertaken since then at Enderby Island (Sandy beach and South East Point -without pups since 2012), Dundas Island and Figure of Eight Island.

nz-sea-lion-pups-chart-feb19-565.png
Pup count numbers at different breeding locations at Auckland Islands: 1995-2019

2018/2019 research projects

Fieldwork reports
  • Pup count and tagging at Enderby Island, Dundas Island, Figure of Eight and South-East Point
    •  
  • Pup mortality at Enderby Island
    •  
CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentations
  • Pup count and tagging at Enderby Island, Dundas Island, Figure of Eight and South-East Point - Laura Boren (DOC)
  • Pup mortality at Enderby Island - Aditi Sriram (DOC)

2017/2018 research projects

Fieldwork reports
CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentations
  • Update on disease research at the Auckland Islands - Sarah Michael (Massey University)
  • Pup count and tagging at Enderby Island, Dundas Island, Figure of Eight and South-East Point - Tom Burns (Blue Planet Marine)

2016/2017 research projects 

  • Pup count and tagging at Enderby Island, Dundas Island, Figure of Eight and South-East Point

Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku

New Zealand sea lion TMP goal: reduce the level of pup mortality and support population growth

  • Increased frequency and consistency of monitoring the population
  • Pup counts at or above 696 (the 2015 pup count)
  • Demographic parameters such as adult female survival rate and pup survival rate improve

Background

Warneke registered the only record of sea lions on Campbell Island in the 19th century, with 300 sea lion skins taken in 1815/16. Since 1947, when Bailey & Sorensen described no more than 20 females at Campbell Island, irregular publication of data indicates the population might have been growing. Between 1995 and 2018 five opportunistic pup counts have occurred at Campbell Island with a consecutive increase in numbers each time.

nz-sea-lion-pups-chart-2-feb19-565.png
Pup count numbers at Campbell Island

2018/2019 research projects

Fieldwork reports
  • Pup count and tagging at Campbell Island-Jody Weir (KORI)
    •  
  • Pup Mortality – Kelly Buckle (MPI)
    •  
CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentations

2017/2018 research projects

CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentations

2014/2015 research projects

Otago and Southland coast

New Zealand sea lion TMP goal: facilitate population growth

  • Pup counts increase above 16 (the 2017 pup count) per year along the Otago and Southland coastline, with an increased number of breeding sites
  • No deliberate human-caused mortality
  • Increased public interest and involvement in the conservation of sea lions

Background

Commercial sealing activities removed breeding colonies from the New Zealand mainland by the 1800s. The first New Zealand sea lion born on the mainland in over 100 years was in 1993 when a female sea lion named 'Mum' had a pup at the Otago Peninsula. Female sea lions are philopatric (females choose to breed where they were born), so this event started the recolonisation of the New Zealand sea lion historical breeding range as Mum's female pups continued to breed at this site.

Since 1993 at least one pup has been born in Otago Peninsula every year, and over 10 since 2016. Between one and three pups have been recorded in Southland since 2006.

The New Zealand Sea Lion Trust, local communities, and DOC have been monitoring the New Zealand sea lion population on the mainland, carrying out annual pup counts and tagging.

2018/2019 research projects 

CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentation

2017/2018 research projects 

CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentation

Stewart Island/Rakiura 

New Zealand sea lion TMP goal: facilitate population growth to achieve breeding colony status

  • Pup counts remain at a number higher than 35 for 5 years in a row, qualifying Stewart Island/Rakiura as a new breeding colony
  • Continued increase in number of pups born to enable colonial breeding behaviour 
  • No deliberate human-cause mortality (eg shootings)
  • Increased public interest and involvement in the conservation of sea lions

Background

The colony at Stewart Island seems to be a historic location for New Zealand sea lion as Thomas Shepherd in 1826 reported numerous sea lions after his visit to Port Pegasus. Fleming classified Stewart Island and Southland as non-breeding overflow from the Auckland Island population after reporting some animals, mostly immature, hauled out on the coast.

rakiua-pup-count-graph-565.png
Pup count numbers at Rakiura/Stewart Island

Since 2011, an increasing number of pups have been born at Stewart Island and the population is about to reach breeding colony status (a breeding colony is defined when at least 35 pups are born five years in a row).

2018/2019 research projects

CSP-TMP Technical Working Group presentation
  • Pup count and tagging - Phred Dobbins (DOC)
    •  

2017/2018 research projects 

Fieldwork reports

2016/2017 research projects

  • Pup count and tagging
  • Thermos cameras

Other projects

2018/2019

 


Viewing files on this page

If you can't view these files contact us to request another format. About our files.


Back to top