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Threats to pakake

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Sea lion pups face a number of threats on their way to adulthood. Image: New Zealand Sea Lion Trust.

Let's talk about the challenges that our cool New Zealand sea lions, known as pakake, face. These awesome sea creatures are dealing with a bunch of issues that we need to know about.

Sickness strikes

First up, there's this thing called disease. Every now and then, bacterial infections hit the sea lion colonies. During these outbreaks, the little sea lion pups are in real danger. While disease isn't the main reason for the sea lion population going down, it can slow down their recovery and make them more vulnerable to other problems.

Fishy business

Now, let's dive into the world of fisheries. These are places where people go fishing and unfortunately, it can be a problem for our pakake pals. Some of the main fisheries around their hunting grounds are the subantarctic squid trawl fishery, scampi trawl fishery, Rakiura salmon fisheries, and the southern blue whiting fishery. The squid trawl fishery, in particular, has been known to accidentally catch sea lions.

Imagine this: sea lion moms are trying to feed their pups, and these big fishing nets get in the way. Yikes! Researchers are working on tools called SLEDs (sea lion exclusion devices) to help sea lions avoid getting caught but sometimes, they still get hurt or drown.

Fisheries can be a problem for our pakake pals. Image: Public Domain.

Other threats

Okay, so besides sickness and fishing, there are other dangers out there. Sea lion pups can face problems like not having enough food, falling into holes, or getting squished by big sea lion dudes. And speaking of food, some of the fish that sea lions love to eat are also targeted by those fishing folks. Less food for sea lions means they might not get the nutrients they need, and that's not good for them.

Keep a lookout for sea lions on roads if you see these signs. Image: LEARNZ.

Humans in the mix

Last but not least, us humans can unintentionally mess with our sea lion friends. When they come ashore to chill after long days of hunting, people and dogs can disturb them, messing up their rest and important activities. Plus, with sea lions expanding their hangout spots along the South Island, road accidents are becoming a big problem. Sometimes sea lions, especially mums and pups, end up on busy roads and that's super risky for them.

Worse still, a few people have actually hurt or killed sea lions on purpose! Not cool, right? It's totally against the rules, and there are serious consequences for anyone who does harm to these awesome marine mammals—up to two years in jail or a fine of up to $250,000. Let's give our sea lion buddies the space and respect they deserve!

Let's give our sea lion buddies and other wildlife space and respect. Image: LEARNZ.

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