By KAT BAULU & ALASTAIR JAMIESON
Executive Producer MICHAEL STEDMAN
Narrated by MOANA TIPA
Story Editor RICHARD THOMAS
Music by CLAIRE COWAN
With JIM FYFE SHANNON WILLIAMS
JOJO JACKSON GEORGE MCINTOSH
Sea lions are making a remarkable, although tentative, comeback to mainland New Zealand. While male sea lions had occasionally visited the Otago coast, it was not until 1991 when a lone female made the journey that breeding began.
`Mum' as she came to be known is the matriarch of a sea lion family dynasty on the Otago coast. Her latest pup is the 28th member of her extended family. This year one or two other females appear to have arrived from the Auckland Islands on the Catlins coast and will hopefully also begin to breed.
The major threats to sea lions are disease which periodically decimates the population in the Auckland Islands, and human activities, particularly fishing. Southern ocean squid trawlers have killed 2000 sea lions since 1980. Many of those were females, so hundreds of orphaned pups left ashore also starved to death. This year the New Zealand Government has sanctioned the deaths of 93 sea lions by the squid fishery - that' s more than the entire Otago population.
On the mainland, young sea lions are vulnerable to dogs, while human coastal development can reduce habitat quality for sea lions.
More information on sea lions:
New Zealand Sea Lion Trust
Department of Conservation
Forest and Bird Protection Society