Lend our coastal wildlife a hand

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It’s that time of year when many of us head to the coast to enjoy some summer sun by the sea. Jandals, chilly bins and boogie boards are a part of our Kiwi identity and way of life.
Also an integral part of our Kiwi identity is the wildlife that frequents our coasts for food, shelter or to raise their young.
Perhaps the most obvious wildlife we see during summer is the New Zealand sea lion/pakake.
At this time of year, female sea lions are settling down to give birth to their pups, due right in the middle of the festive season. While the females carry out their motherly duties, other sea lions, particularly young males, have been known to want to join in the fun in the surf and on the beach.
Wildlife of a feathered kind is particularly active on our beaches over the summer. Adult yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho have some hard work ahead to keep up with the needs of their recently hatched chicks. Together with the little blue penguin/korora and the occasional Fiordland crested visitor, these penguins
come and go from the ocean frequently. Oystercatchers have their young in tow while they learn how to keep themselves fed and safe.
All of these wild beachgoers are vulnerable to disturbance. Lend them a hand by:
Being vigilant. Scanning ahead increases our chances of knowing what’s ahead and how we might need to react.
Giving wildlife space. Often this requires us to change course, pause or move away.
Keeping furry four-legged friends in sight and under control. Put them on a lead within 20m of protected wildlife (as required in the DCC Dog Control Bylaw).
Alerting others to what’s ahead, so they can take proactive action.
Sharing these messages with others, particularly visitors to Dunedin who don’t usually encounter such wildlife.¬†Alishea Dench is community ranger with Doc.