Wilson James / RNZ
The 150 kg sea lion at the Chisolm Links Golf Club.
People setting off from the thirteenth hole at Chisholm Links in the next few weeks may find themselves head-to-head with a 150-kilogram marine creature that has chosen the Dunedin Golf Course as the birthplace.
Dunedin City Council has sealed off a section of John Wilson Ocean Drive that separates the path from the ocean, so Hiriwa’s sea lion and her new puppy can safely reach the water.
Heriwa, who was first seen about a week ago, is currently living in the bush beside Hole # 13 in order to care for her newborn.
This is Heriwa’s fifth pup – her first on a golf course, Jim Fife, the Sahel biodiversity ranger in Otago, said.
He said, “She went up to John Wilson Drive and got on the golf course to put her puppy in some bushes there.”
“She definitely had a puppy – she was able to retrieve the placenta and throw it over the cliff … so it wouldn’t attract any dogs.”
It is about time that Heriwa will start taking trips to the ocean to feed, which will include crossing John Wilson Ocean Drive.
The City Council acted at the request of the Ministry of Defense and closed part of the road for the following month.
“As long as golfers give them a respectable distance and bear in mind that they are there and not hit the golf balls in their direction, I think it should go off quite smoothly,” Fife said.
“Maybe I’m more worried about dog walkers taking their dogs off the golf course. They might not expect to see a sea lion puppy coming out of the wood.”
Wilson James, director of the Chisholm Links Golf Club, said the animals were welcome honorary members and were very well behaved.
He said, “We found the sea lion at the edge of our thirteenth lane in the club kinda taking care of its own affairs and looking quite comfortable, so we left him to do his job.”
“ I imagine a new mother could protect a completely new baby, but so far we have not had any reports from the members about any unusual or aggressive behavior, and we didn’t even have a member say [they’ve seen] A sea lion or puppy.
“She must have found a good secret hiding place to raise her new baby sea lion for the next few weeks.”
Jim Fife said it was an abundant breeding season for sea lions in the area.
This year we expect 20 sea lions to give birth around Dunedin. That would be a record for us.
“New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species that is just recovering on the mainland coast, so it’s really good news.”
Dog walkers have been warned not to keep their pets leashed and to distance and puppies of the large female.
The process now begins with choosing a name for the little sea lion.