HAUL-OUT PATTERNS, SITE FIDELITY AND ACTIVITY BUDGETS OF MALE HOOKER'S SEA LIONS (PHOCARCTOS HOOKERI) ON THE NEW ZEALAND MAINLAND

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Abstract

Diurnal and seasonal haul-out patterns, site fidelity and activity budgets of individually identified Hooker's sea lions were studied for two years at Papanui Beach, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand.

Fourteen male sea lions were identified. Lengths ranged from 1.65 m–2.28 m and estimated ages from 2-11 yr. The population consisted of four sexually and socially mature (potentially breeding), eight sexually mature but socially immature and two immature males. Most haul-outs (95.6%) were by nine identifiable individuals (Residents) returning on a regular basis, suggesting a high degree of site specificity. Emigration and recruitment were low in relation to the length of the study. Daily arrivals (mean = 0844 h, SD = 1.49) and departures (mean = 1802 h, SD = 1.18) indicate nocturnal feeding. During March 1986 sea lions spent 43.8% of each day ashore (= 78% of daylight hours). Numbers of sea lions hauled out declined in both breeding seasons; in 1986/87 this was due to a decrease in haul-out frequency of resident animals. All but one of these sea lions returned after the breeding season.

Sea lions preferentially selected the middle and the extreme ends of the beach as haul-out sites. During winter use was made of the grass dunes as haul-out areas.

There were significant differences in the frequencies of behavioral activities between summer and winter; more time was allocated to resting in summer.

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