This #WildWork Wednesday we’re following seals keeper Odin as he heads to Stewart Island with our friends at the Department of Conservation for the annual sea lion pup count.
Once prevalent on mainland Aotearoa, sea lions were driven to the brink of extinction, hunted for their pelts and blubber. We’ve been involved in this sea lion Wild Work since 2013 – funding GPS tags for ecological research and joining in on the official pup count each year.
Catching and tagging pups is the most stress-free way to prove the existence of a colony, but it can be exhausting work – searching from dusk until dawn through dense bush and rugged terrain, but as Odin says, it’s all in the name of sea lion conservation.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than at the end of a trip when you know you have found and tagged the amount of pups required, and this year completes the five year count recognising the Stewart Island colony, which was the best feeling ever to do this for such a nationally critical species.”
It’s exciting to note that there have been numerous sightings of tagged sea lions on mainland New Zealand – a promising sign for the species.