New Zealand Sea Lion


New Zealand Sea Lion
New Zealand Sea Lion
New Zealand (Hooker's) Sea Lion
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Subfamily: Otariinae
Genus: Phocarctos
Peters, 1866
Species: P. hookeri
Binomial name
Phocarctos hookeri
(Gray, 1844)
New Zealand Sea Lion range

The New Zealand Sea Lion (Phocarctos hookeri) also known as Hooker's Sea Lion or Whakahao in Māori is a species of sea lion that breeds around the coast of New Zealand's South Island and Stewart Island/Rakiura to some extent, and to a greater extent around the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, especially the Auckland Islands. It is monotypic of its genus.

Contents

Characteristics and taxonomy

New Zealand lions, like all otariids, have marked sexual dimorphism. Adult males are 240-350 cm long and weigh 320-450 kg and adult females are 180-200 cm long and weigh 90-165 kg. At birth, pups are 70-100 cm long and weigh 7-8 kg; the natal pelage is a thick coat of dark brown hair that becomes dark gray with cream markings on the top of the head, nose, tail and at the base of the flippers. Adult females' coats vary from buff to creamy gray with darker pigmentation around the muzzle and the flippers. Adult males are blackish-brown with a well-developed black mane of coarse hair reaching the shoulders.[2]

Endangered

As one of the larger New Zealand animals, it has been a protected species since the 1890s, is in decline[3] and considered the most threatened in the world.[4]

It has been inferred from middens that the Hooker's sea lion was made locally extinct in the Chatham Islands due to predation by the Moriori.[5] There was thought to be a population of around 15,000 in the mid-1990s. This may have declined somewhat since an outbreak of disease in 1998 caused the deaths of an estimated 20 percent of adult females and 50 percent of pups that year. Estimates (based on pup-counts) were about 9,000 for 2008.

In 2010 the Department of Conservation - responsible for marine mammal conservation - changed the New Zealand Threat Classification System ranking from Nationally Endangered to Nationally Critical.[6]

Bycatch

A Court of Appeal of New Zealand judgement of 7 April 2004, (with the reasons issued separately on 13 July 2004 (CA39/04)), overturned a decision by the Minister of Fisheries that only 62 sea lions could be taken as bycatch by squid fishers, based on advice from the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries. The Court increased the bycatch to 124 sea lions in the 2004 season, saying the Minister's imposition of the lower figure (one of the lowest ever imposed in the 20-year history of such restrictions) was going beyond what the law required.

In January 2009 the Fisheries Minister allowed a kill of 113 sea lions by the squid fishery, an increase in 40 percent over the previous season. This was condemned by the Forest and Bird conservation organisation since the sea lion population is under threat and in decline.[3]


Images

EnderbyIsland5.JPG Hooker on high.jpg New zealand sea lion nursing.jpg Nzhookerso1.jpg
New Zealand Sea Lions on an Enderby Island beach. New Zealand Sea Lions are surprisingly good climbers. This pup has been left by its mother adjacent to a hut on Auckland Is (an altitude of approximately 200 metres). A New Zealand Sea Lion nursing at Enderby Island, New Zealand. Close up

References

  1. ^ Gales, N. (2008). Phocarctos hookeri. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 30 January 2009. Listed as Vulnerable (VU A3b)
  2. ^ Perrin, William. Encyclopedia of marine mammals. 
  3. ^ a b "Forest & Bird condemns 40% rise in sea lion quota". Forest & Bird. 2008-12-19. http://forestandbird.colo.onesquared.net/what-we-do/publications/media-releases/forest-bird-condemns-40-rise-in-sea-lion-quota. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  4. ^ "New Zealand Sea Lion". NZ Department of Conservation. http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/marine-mammals/seals/nz-sea-lion/. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  5. ^ McFadgen, B.G. (March 1994). Archaeology and holocene sand dune stratigraphy on Chatham Island. 24. Royal Society of New Zealand. http://www.rsnz.org/publish/jrsnz/1994/2.php. Retrieved 2008-08-25. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Zero quota urged for sea lion". Radio New Zealand. 19 June 2010. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2010/06/19/12480a424c2a. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 

Further reading

  • Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Stewart, Phillip J. Clapham and James A. Powell (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0375411410. 

External links


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