30km walk a tribute to inspirational Mum

Expectant mum Chelsea McGaw leans on another mum at St Clair Esplanade yesterday morning. Photo:...
Expectant mum Chelsea McGaw leans on another mum at St Clair Esplanade yesterday morning. Photo: Gregor Richardson
An expectant Dunedin mother is walking the walk to celebrate an inspirational mum.

Thirty years ago, a of sealion endemic to New Zealand swam on to our shores from the Auckland Islands for the first time since they were displaced about 300 years ago.

The sealion, named Mum, birthed the first sealion pup on New Zealand shores for centuries, down on the coast at Taieri Mouth.

Today, expectant (human) mother Chelsea McGaw will be walking 30km, starting at Corstorphine Park and making her way to Taieri Mouth to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mum’s epic journey to New Zealand.

The idea of a walk around the peninsula or a harbour walk was juggled around, but after learning that Corstorphine Park was almost exactly 30km away from Taieri Mouth, the decision was made.

"I’ve been walking heaps the last couple of months, not quite 30km but we will see how it goes."

Ms McGaw, who is six-months pregnant, will start out at 8.30am and aimed to finish up around 3pm to 4pm this afternoon.

Following Mum’s birth of a sealion, she went on to birth a further 11 pups on the mainland during her lifetime.

All the sealions swimming in the sea and basking in the Otago sun can trace their lineage to Mum, and her granddaughters are still having pups to this day.

Ms McGaw is aiming to raise $3000 for The Sealion Trust before January, the birth month of Mum’s first pup.

"So many people don’t even know we have sealions here in New Zealand, when they see them they think they are furred seals, much less a species endemic to New Zealand."

The Sealion Trust assists the Department of Conservation with tagging and monitoring sealions, as well as providing protection and education about the critically endangered animals.

Sealions are thought to have lived on the New Zealand mainland for centuries, before they were hunted to near extinction, causing surviving sealions to flee to the Auckland and Campbell Islands.

Sadly, there has been a 40% decline in numbers within colonies in these islands, however, the small mainland population here thanks to Mum continues to grow each year, with about 10 to 20 sealion pups being born annually.