Mother and Pup at Surat Bay

This short article features some images of a New Zealand fur seal and its pup, captured hand-held at Surat Bay New Zealand during our month-long March 2018 field trip. While I did photograph a few other specimen that were on this same stretch of beach, this mother and pup at Surat Bay were one of the highlights of our trip.

While we typically kept our hiking into various photography spots to a maximum of about 400 metres (~ 1/4 mile) during most of our trip, we did make an exception on this particular morning. We hiked out about 3-4 kilometres (~1.8 to 2.5 miles) to get to this stretch of beach where we found this mother and pup.

Let’s start with a couple of photographs of the mother fur seal.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

When we first arrived, the mother was having what appeared to be a light snooze on the beach. The pup was behind her in the shade near some shoreline vegetation.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 216mm, efov 583mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-400

As we drew closer the mother did rise up to have a better look at us. We kept our distance (warning signs on beaches in New Zealand suggest keeping at least 10 metres away from seals and sea lions) and we made sure that we did not get between the mother and her pup.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400

It didn’t take long for the pup to notice us, and it moved closer in to its mother for a while. We remained quiet and kept our movements slow and measured.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 234mm, efov 632mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

It didn’t take too long before the pup grew comfortable with our presence and watched us with some interest.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-400

The natural inquisitiveness of the pup was obvious, as was its playful nature.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400

It began watching us while holding its head in various, angled positions.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-400

For a while it decided to observe us while keeping its head in an upside-down position, allowing me to capture a few individual frames of this posture.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 195mm, efov 527mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

The pup did a bit of exploring, always within range of its watchful mother.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

I was able to get in a bit closer during the pup’s short exploration away from its mother, which enabled me to capture a few, closer-in photographs.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400

There is something quite heart-warming being out in nature and being able to capture these types of images of young animals. It is important to be respectful of nature, and to treasure special encounters like the one captured in these images.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal, both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to tom@tomstirr.com through PayPal.

You can also support my efforts when you purchase anything from B&H by using the Thomas Stirr affiliate link. Even the smallest purchases will help support this web site. You can use the link provided to check out the weekly deals at B&H.

As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store by using promotion code AMPLIS52018TS.

Article and images are Copyright 2018 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. While we do allow some pre-authorized links to our site from folks like Nikon Canada and Mirrorlessons.com, if you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending web sites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

4 thoughts on “Mother and Pup at Surat Bay”

  1. Absolutely beautiful and clear image, especially being hand held. Just curious, what is the round yellow disc in the the left flapper? Some kind of electronic trekking device, which would be unusual since these pictures were taken on the open beach. Thank you.

    1. Hi Narendra,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the images and thank you for your comment! I believe that the yellow disk on the pup’s flipper is some kind of identification tag. The Government of New Zealand is very concerned about wildlife populations and it has many programs to monitor the size and health of various species. The tag was likely affixed to the pup as part of a biological tracking study. Here is a link to the New Zealand Department of Conservation which you may find of interest: http://www.doc.govt.nz/
      Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *