Hooker’s Sea Lions
The Hooker’s Sea Lion also known as the New Zealand Sea Lion is a species of Sea Lion that breeds on New Zealand’s Islands and also on Macquarie Island.
The Hooker’s Sea Lion is one of only five species of Sea Lion in the world and it is also known as the New Zealand Sea Lion. It’s scientific name is Phocarctos hookeri. It is one of the rarest Sea Lions found in the world. Adult males are a dark blackish brown in colour and have a distinct light colored mane that reaches down to their shoulders. Females are grey and have a paler belly. Pups are born with a thick covering of black hair which they lose sometime after birth.
Weight and size
A male adult Sea Lion can weigh over 400 kg and can defend over 25 females during breeding season. A female Hooker’s Sea Lion can weigh between 85-160kg and her pups can weigh between 7-8kg at birth. The male’s size can range between 2.0 and 3.25 metres. The female’s size can range from 1.6 to 2.0 metres.
The Hooker’s Sea Lions are one of the most regionally localised and rare species of Sea Lions in the world. They breed at New Zealand’s Auckland Islands and Campbell Island. The males like to travel and are usually spotted as far south as Macquarie Island. Some females have also been spotted at Macquarie Island.
Threats and Population
The total number of Hooker’s Sea Lions around the world are estimated to be around 12,500. They were hunted in the 19th century for their hide and oil by the europeans. They were also hunted by the Maori for food. The number dropped to 12,500 and has been stable for about five decades. The Hooker’s Sea Lion are accidentally killed by fishing boats fishing for squid around the auckland Islands. There status is currently at vulnerable.
Breeding season is in December and early January. The pups are born and then are suckled for up to 10 months.
The Hooker’s Sea Lion feed on squid octopus and several types of fish. Occasionally they eat Crustaceans like Krill, Crabs, Mussels and Lobsters and they have also been seen eating Fur and Elephant seals. They also eat penguins occasionally. They can dive deeper than any of the world Sea Lions or Seals. Their feeding usually is in depths of 100- 200m taking 3-6 minutes but they have been recorded to dive up to 600m taking over 12 minutes.
The Hooker’s Sea Lion breeds on sandy beaches and when the pups are old enough they explore near by creeks and rivers. The adults often wander inland and can be found resting on grassy cliffs and forests.
The Hooker’s Sea Lion is a beautiful animal.
Crustaceans- an arthropod of the large, mainly aquatic group crustacea, such as a crab, lobster, shrimp, or barnacle.
Breeding- The mating and production of offspring by animals.