Sea lion and pup move on

Smaills Beach is again open to dogs and vehicles, following the departure of a mother sea lion and her pup.

The Department of Conservation put a temporary cordon around the Dunedin beach to protect the mammals, which moved into the sand dunes after being at Tomahawk Beach for a few weeks.

Doc staff were especially concerned about dogs and vehicles getting too close to the sea lions and placed signs at entrances to the beach and involved the Dunedin City Council's dog control unit.

Doc biodiversity ranger Jim Fyfe said people seemed to have respected the temporary cordon at Smaills Beach, which was lifted late yesterday.

He said an adult female sea lion and her pup were seen at Sandfly Bay on Monday night, and were likely to be those from Smaills Beach.

A pup was also seen at Allans Beach, near Cape Saunders, this week, Mr Fyfe said.

''It could be the same one, but it may also be a second pup. At this time of the year we expect a few of them to come out of the woodwork,'' he said.

Since those reports, there had been no recent signs of the sea lions at Smaills Beach.

The pup was born at Tomahawk in mid-January, after which a cordon was placed around the eastern end of the beach.

Mr Fyfe said sea lions usually moved their pups after about five weeks, when they were strong enough to swim up the Otago Peninsula to more remote beaches and feeding grounds.

Last year, five sea lion pups were born on Dunedin beaches, two of which died of disease.

Another half-dozen pups were expected to be born in the area this season, Mr Fyfe said.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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