Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is urging the public to come forward with information after a critically endangered sea lion/rāpoka was shot on a Catlins beach.

Date:  19 September 2017

Biodiversity ranger Ros Cole says the male sea lion was reported dead on Tautuku Beach on Sunday 10 September. 

The shot sea lion.
The shot sea lion
Image: DOC

“A local vet performed a necropsy confirming what we suspected – the sea lion had been shot.”

“It’s really disheartening someone would do this, sea lions are not only critically endangered but also a taonga species special to Ngāi Tahu. To discover someone has such reckless disregard for our protected species is extremely disappointing.”

The sea lion appeared to be otherwise healthy and in good condition, Ros says. 

Sea lions are fully protected in New Zealand, with the same threat classification as kākāpō and kiwi. In July, the Sea Lion Threat Management Plan was released which aims to halt the decline of the New Zealand sea lion population within five years and ensure the population is stable or increasing within 20 years.

A particular goal for Te Waipounamu is that there are no cases of deliberate human-caused mortality for sea lions. 

It is illegal to injure or kill sea lions and anyone apprehended faces serious penalties, including up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and five years’ prison and a fine of up to $100,000 under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

This is the second time a sea lion had been shot on the Catlins coast this year. In April another male was found dead at Jacks Bay. 

Anyone with any information on the shot sea lion is urged to contact the Owaka Police on +64 3 419 1070.


Rosalind Cole, Biodiversity ranger
Phone: +64 3 211 2482

Laura Boren Science adviser – marine species and threats team
Mobile: +64 27 201 3264

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