Monday, 25 June 2007

'Pitbulls of the Sea'

In the 'letters to the editor' columns in the Otago Daily Times newspaper the last few weeks there has been some vigirous debate over our local Sea Lion colonies.

The debate was initially sparked by the following letter by Rod Rust:

The Editor,
Otago Daily Times,
Dear Sir,

I was horrified to read in Saturday's paper about domestic cats killing Penguins in Oamaru and yesterday further outraged to have it confirmed that sea lions are chomping through the world's rarest Penguin - our yellow eye!

However, the worst news to me was that the Department of Conservation is actually trying to establish a breeding colony of sea lions on the Otago Peninsula. What on earth are they thinking?

Researchers know that one sea lion in the colony is eating up to 3 yellow eyed penguins a month but "the penguin population was not under threat from one sea lion he (marine ranger Jim Fyfe) said".

Who knows how many other penguins are being consumed? As Billy Connolly would say:"Come on Jimmy, Do the Math!" Act now and get rid of your 'Katya' the known perpetrator.

Since their recent proliferation, these cunning and intimidating animals are also already in conflict with humans -snatching salmon from fisher's lines and attacking surfers and divers - they will be climbing aboard boats next.

Why should we be forced to give up our beaches and harbour to these aggressive territorial animals? One has already grabbed a girl surfer by the throat.
Will the Department of Conservation assume responsibility when someone's swimming child is taken?

DOC should focus on conserving Otago's gentle yellow-eyed penguins and friendly Hector's dolphins. This would benefit us all.

To anyone who actually goes in the sea or who fishes it- these sea lions are as welcome as a Pitbull in a school playground. We don't need them here.

Rod Rust

If you, as a reader of this blog, whether a surfer, or a beach-goer have had any experiences with Sea Lions ... it would be much appreciated if you could briefly mention these in the comments function below.. negative/positive or just opinions about the Sea Lion situation around our waters.

** Sea lion attacks Australian girl **
A teenage girl is in a stable condition after being mauled by a sea lion while surfing off Australia's west coast. click here for story


jonathan said...

Hi Phoam,

In my 35 years surfing, I've only heard of one incident of aggression by a sea lion to a group of surfers here (northern California).

What Rod Rust (great name for a civic crank, btw), and, sadly, alot of others don't get is that all these animals are part of a balanced ecosystem, and the only signifigant culprit in damaging it is us.

Hands off... except Katya. Keep her inside & let her have a ball of yarn, or whatever...

Anonymous said...

Maybe so but I think they have been more aggressive lately.You dont have to go far in the Otago to hear a nasty Seal or
Sea Lion story.Only a couple of months ago my sister's dog was exploring along the rocks at the spit and he was attacked by a Sea Lion or Seal. ( not sure what one it was) It grabbed hold of the dogs head, the dog weighing in at 60kg, dragged him into the water and rolled.It took 3 people to save the dog from being drowned , not to mention the puncher holes in his head! Next time it very well may be a child.Beware!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, last summer I had two incidences of being lunged at and chased by an irrate sea lion when out surfing - unreal how FAST they can charge you and those teeth are BIG... and hairy!!!. In telling my stories to some of the locals of the area (some who have been here for over 40 years) there is clearly a significant increase in the number of incidences and also in the level of aggression shown by the creatures. Once upon a time, there were the odd few seals and sea lions who chose to interact with humans and apparently this involved casual socialising - drinking lemonade and getting a good pat or scratch. Nowadays its they are after chomp!!! There is a difference!!! I agree with Rod!!!

Nic on 26 June, 2007 22:44 said...

thanks so much for the comments so far ..
I have been thinking of the phenomena of the 100th monkey effect, also known as amorphic resonance .. whereby a change in behaviour or action by one animal in a seemingly isolated area, can be almost simultaneously picked up and acted out amoungst animals of the same species in both the immediate area or very distant areas.. this theory also applies to human acts and tendencies.

So basically as a flow on effect from the more agressive behaviour towards humans in their territory .. there would naturally be more incidences.

Asking for responses here.. assists in affirming these incidences and frequencies to gain a better picture of the situation..

personally I have been chased out of the water at Brighton last year once, and this year left the water at Aramoana when an exremely large and agressive sea lion was spotted amoungst us. I never saw it but paddled in as fast as those who were closer.

Anonymous said...

Having been harassed and eventually chased out of the water at blackhead by a irate seal i can see where rods article is making a good point.
On the other hand humans are part of nature and as well as being a well armed and merciless predator we are also prey,
before man got hold of sharp sticks and eventually fishing quotas nature was well balanced and equal,
but as humanity explodes its lethal virus like grip on the planet nature is swinging wildly out of kilter..
god forbid man stick his pudgy opposable thumbs in the delicate mechanism again!!
we have harvested the ocean on an obscene scale for the supposed comfort of financial security for ourselves and country and now seals and sea lions can't get their sustenance to survive we should cull them or banish them to outer islands ??
please "humane" humans stop breeding, sell your gadgets and gas guzzling 4x4's and live in and with nature cos if we all make a small sacrifice today ,maybe our grandchildren will remember us for more than our opulent excesses.

After all despite the grand title our mind gives us we are no more than a savage and selfish hairless ape !!

Anonymous said...

Its there home that we'r playing in,not the other way around.


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