See sea lions? Stay clear, says DOC
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionDOC rangers and volunteers continue to hit the beach on a mission to educate beach-goers on giving wildlife space.
Date: 12 October 2018
DOC Wildlife Response Kaitiaki, New Zealand Sea lion Trust volunteers and DOC staff spoke to more than 180 people – both locals and tourists, about the importance of sharing the beach with marine mammal visitors.
DOC coastal Otago ranger Jim Fyfe says after the close calls of last week, where a resting sea lion/rāpoka lunged at a tourist who got too close, it was time to get boots on the ground and speak to people face to face.
“We’re really lucky in Otago to share our coastline with wonderful creatures such as sea lions, and we know people are excited to see them. However, no one likes it when someone sits too close in the coffee shop or is making too much noise when you’re trying to rest – so why do that to a 350 kg sea lion?”
“It’s about being respectful to the animal, giving them space and enjoying from a safe distance – for both people and the sea lions.”
The presence of the sea lion advocates prevented at least one group from upsetting a sea lion.
“We were able to hastily step in and stop a man and his daughter from rushing straight up to an unsuspecting sea lion,” Jim says.
“It was great to share the message about giving wildlife space and hear locals’ stories about the wonderful creatures that live on the peninsula.”
While there were about 30 male sea lions sunbathing at Sandfly Bay last weekend, they are as endangered as the kiwi or kākāpō.
“We are privileged to have them on our beaches as there were no sea lions being born on the peninsula prior to 1993,” Jim says.
“Generally, most people we spoke to were aware of the importance of giving them space and it was overall a really positive worthwhile exercise.”
DOC staff and volunteers will be out and about on the beaches around Dunedin over the coming summer, monitoring wildlife and talking with visitors.
Jim Fyfe, Ranger
Mobile: +64 27 408 3347