Back in 2007, Algonquin published my account of the wrecking of the Grafton and the Invercauld on Auckland Island, and the fate of the two sets of castaways. It is a fascinating story, because one group did remarkably well, building a cabin that was so staunch that traces of it can still be seen today, while the other group descended into cannibalism and chaos. Leadership and engineering skills made all the difference.
One of the problems with writing the book was having to describe the killing of sea lions, because in both cases the survivors only made it because they lived on sea lion meat. And the sea lion in question, the New Zealand sea lion, is now an endangered species.
Now, it seems that they have made a come-back, and their image needs to be tweaked yet again.
Sea lion could be up for image makeover
Updated at 7:02 am today
The endangered New Zealand sea lion could be in line for an image makeover in the same way as the North American grizzly bear.
After being hunted to the brink of extinction, the New Zealand sea lion is now back on the Otago-Southland coast, numbering up to about 200 animals.
But that has raised some problems as people adjust to having them back. Two weeks ago, the swimming pool at Dunedin's St Clair had to be evacuated when a young sea lion wandered into the hot salt-water pool.
Now, a group of US students is working with the Department of Conservation to look at whether the species needs to be "rebranded."
The group was starting on surveys of 400 people, from Dunedin down to Stewart Island, to find out what they know about the endangered mammal and how they view them.
Student Jessica Desmond from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, said they were asking whether people had heard of the sea lion, where they got their information, and whether people were willing to support the mammals' conservation.
Ms Desmond said it was clear some people were worried they might get confronted by an angry wild animal and said they did not feel safe.
And rightly so. As the castaways of Auckland Island found out, bull sea lions are aggressive, and can easily kill even the biggest, strongest man. And sea lions not only move surprisingly fast, but they can climb cliffs. So, if you happen to come across a sea lion on the beach (or any seal, for that matter), don't treat him as the family dog, and take particular care not to get between him and the sea.