The Weekly Photo Challenge is Relax.
We just returned from a month’s long vacation through New Zealand. Vacations are seldom relaxing, but the fur seals of New Zealand know how to unwind.
Tonga Island in Abel Tasman National Park is home to the second largest of three fur seal breeding colonies in New Zealand. We took a lazy boat to Tonga Island to view the fur seals in Abel Tasman National Park. Can you see them basking on the rocks?
Seal rookeries are highly sensitive to human intrusion and there have been problems with people landing on the islands and disturbing them. So, we quietly observed the laid-back fur seals from the boat.
The breeding season takes place from mid-November to mid-January. During this time, seals mate and females give birth to their pups. They need a calm and distraction free place to raise their pups. Bull fur seals can be aggressive during the mating season and will chase and attack people who come too close. All the more reason to watch them from afar.
Hanging loose with flippers dangling over the warm rocks, the fur seals really know how to take it easy.
Dominant bulls put on displays of glaring and posturing and fighting with other males just prior to the breeding season to gain territories. Fur seals are polygamous breeders; this means that a male may mate with many females in a single breeding season.
Before the arrival of humans a population of about 2 million fur seal/kekeno inhabited New Zealand. They were taken as food by Maori, and the onset of European sealing for meat and pelts in the 1700s and 1800s pushed them to the brink of extinction.
In 1978 fur seal/kekeno were fully protected by the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and they have continued to grow in numbers ever since. Research has shown a population increase of 25% per year between 1982 and 1994. Surveys in 1995 indicated this was continuing.
Today, the population of fur seals continues to increase because they are protected and provided with a calm, relaxing sanctuary to mate and raise their pups.
Makes you want to put your feet up and watch the fur seals all day, doesn’t it?
If you would like to learn more about the New Zealand Fur Seals...New Zealand Fur Seal Facts