by Katrina Hapner, contributing writer for Telegraph Local
The sea lions in New Zealand are some of the rarest mammals in the world, with only approximately 12,000 left of this endangered species. In New Zealand laws state that anyone who kills a sea lion could end up in prison for two years and/or a fine of $168,000. Unfortunately, on Friday Matt Kraemer and his partner Jo Kraemer harmed a sea lion with a spear, he says, to protect his partner from the aggressive animal.
Kraemer and his partner were diving for paua shell, a beautiful type of abalone used in jewelry making. Kraemer stated on his Facebook page that the sea lion climbed out of the water and tried to attack them on the beach. He described this beast as a “particularly aggressive” animal with “lion-sized jaws.” Kraemer went on to state that he had to stab the sea lion with his spear in order to defend his friend who feared for her life, adding, “It needed a stab. It will live.” He stated he poked it lots of times with no effect whatsoever, and the stab was about 8 mm wide and 30 mm deep.
Kraemer’s dive buddy, Jo reported that the sea lion was approximately 6 feet away from them and repeatedly charged at them aggressively as they tried to get away. Jo also stated that she is aware that the sea lions in New Zealand are “endangered animals and we were in its habitat, and that free diving in the ocean is dangerous. We did not intend to hurt it, we just needed it to leave us alone so we could exit the water safely,” she said. She added a comment to her partner’s post that she is honestly scared to go back into the water now.
The New Zealand Sea Lion Trust commented that it is never okay to harm a sea lion based on fear. Chairwoman Jordana Whyte stated in a Facebook post that, “While we can appreciate that this individual was scared and felt he was acting defensively, none of the behaviors demonstrated by the sea lion suggest aggression to us. We do not condone this man’s response to typical curious sea lion engagement, though we do have empathy for how frightened he was.”
The trust stated that sea lions are very curious and use their mouths to explore bodies in the water. They think it is important for humans to learn the proper way to interact with these creatures. It is best to ignore them and remain calm. The Department of Conservation in New Zealand declined to make a comment on the incident.