T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Seal (Sea lion) Phocarctos hookeri

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Otariidae
Genus: Phocarctos
Species: P. hookeri
Binomial name: Phocarctos hookeri
Common names: New Zealand sea lion, Sea lion, Hooker’s sea lion, rāpoka 

Phocarctos hookeri is one of the rarest sea lion species in the world and are only found in New Zealand. They inhabit the southern areas of New Zealand’s territory, with colonies reaching as far north as the Foveaux Straight and as far south as Macquarie Island. The vast majority of breeding occurs among the Auckland Islands, with a scattering of breeding colonies inhabiting the Campbell Islands. There are emerging breeding locations at Stewart Island and Otago and Southland regions. They once bred along the entire New Zealand coastline but were hunted to near extinction. 
When breeding females will venture inland to altitudes >400 m where they will feed on birds and their nests. 

The total population is estimated to be between 10,000 and 13,000 total individuals. The main threats to Phocarctos hookeri are fisheries bycatch, prey habitat modification due to bottom trawling, the disease Klebsiella (a bacteria), and the effect of climate change. They are also predated on by great white sharks, with 27% showing evidence of scarring from near-miss shark attacks in an opportunistic study of adult NZ sea lions at Sandy Bay, Enderby Island. 

The New Zealand sea lion males reach >3.5 m in length and weigh > 400 kg. The males have a dark brown or black colour mane around their shoulders. The females are a much lighter grey with some individuals that are yellow with some darker shades around the flippers. Females are smaller reaching only > 2 m in length and weighing between >160 kg. Pups are typically brown in appearance with young males resembling females until full maturation.  
New Zealand sea lions dive to as deep as 130 m and spend over 50% of their time at sea submerged. They predate on a wide range of prey species including fish (e.g. hoki and red cod), cephalopods such as arrow squid and octopuses, crustaceans, seabirds and other marine mammals such as fur seal pups.

A male with his distinctive mane.


A female


A female with pups, male in the background.


The New Zealand sea lions distribution area (green)

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/