Meet the NZ Sea Lion Trust

Amelia, Jordana, Eeva, Bryony and John (with Mum in the middle)

Founded in 2003 The New Zealand Sea Lion Trust exists to provide protection to and education about this critically endangered marine mammal species.

We work with the Department of Conservation identifying and monitoring the local breeding population centered around the Otago and Southland coasts.

Education is an important part of our activities and we offer education programmes to schools and community groups as well as supporting scientific research.

We are staffed entirely by volunteers and are self funded by donations from our  generous members and donors.

Board Members

Jordana  |  Chairperson

Jordana Whyte  |  Chairwoman

Where are you from?

I am from Minnesota, in the northern US.

What do you love about New Zealand?

For me, it is all about the outdoors – amazing scenery, weird and wonderful wildlife, and every type of terrain and climate – all in a small package!

What have some of your previous jobs/roles been?

I currently manage a small non-profit, but in the past have worked as a grant writing consultant.

Why do you love sea lions?

Sea lions are like the puppies of the ocean! They all have different personalities, and are so playful and curious. Observing their behaviour is fascinating and entertaining, and oftentimes pretty dang cute. I learn something new nearly every time I have an encounter.

What made you join the NZ Sea Lion Trust team?

I had an opportunity to volunteer for the Trust and Department of Conservation (DOC) tagging pups in 2015. That got me hooked. I wanted to join the Trust so I could learn more about sea lions, and to offer my grant writing skills to help with their conservation and protection.

What are two of your hobbies?

Playing ice hockey and watching videos about wombats.

Amelia  |  Secretary

Where are you from?

I am from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

What do you love about NZ?

The huge variety of environments on your doorstep, particularly in Dunedin. I can be in the city, in the bush, or on the beach depending on which way I want to drive for 10 minutes!

What have some of your previous jobs/roles been?

I have previously worked in a stock exchange, as a tour guide and as a grey seal research assistant. I’m currently working for Dive Otago as their retail manager.

Why do you love sea lions?

I love their boisterous, curious natures. I can spend hours watching them as they play and interact with one another, you can definitely see their different personalities!

What made you join the NZ Sea Lion Trust team?

I hadn’t heard the story of Mum and the plight of the New Zealand sea lion until I moved to New Zealand last year. I contacted Steve (our Chairman) to see if there was anyway I could be of help and he found me work to do from the day I moved to Dunedin!

What are two of your hobbies?

Tramping and scuba diving.

John  |  Treasurer

Where are you from?

Manchester, England

What do you love about New Zealand?

The People and wildlife. A sense of freedom.

What have some of your previous jobs/roles been?

I currently work as Eco-tour guide for Elm Wildlife Tours Dunedin. Other jobs include DOC Ranger, Photographer and Funeral Director in the family business.

Why do you love sea lions?

They are like aquatic wild dogs, each has their own personality.

What made you join the NZSLT?

Having heard of their plight (numbers reducing, critically endangered) I wanted to reverse their decline.

What are two of your hobbies?

Photography and motorcycling.

Bruce  |  Scientific Advisor

NZ Sea Lion Research Interests:
  • Population genetic structure of NZ sea lions.
  • Fine-scale genetic structure of a breeding colony
  • Reproductive behaviour, paternity and dispersal
  • Historic population size based on DNA evidence
  • Management of sea lion bycatch in NZ deepwater fisheries

Click here for a list of some of  Bruce’s Publications:

Shaun  |  Scientific Advisor

Shaun completed his MSc on Individual Identification, Population Dynamics and Moult of the New Zealand Sea Lion at Otago in 1997. Since 2001 Shaun has worked for Elm Wildlife Tours as a wildlife guide taking tourists to see penguins, albatross, fur seals and sea lions. Shaun, with Elm’s owner Brian Templeton, established the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust in 2003 and Shaun remained a trustee until 2015. This allowed him to remain actively involved in research of the New Zealand sea lions and he continued with his photographic identification work until 2014. Through Elm Shaun has been able to share some of his intimate knowledge of the Otago sea lions with others and remain in regular contact with the local sea lion population. He remains active with the Trust both in the field and as a scientific advisor.