A mystery flesh-eating disease is again killing sea lion pups in the subantarctic Auckland Islands. Scientists say it could be linked to an epidemic which wiped out half the pups born in 1998.
The pups developed swelling of the limb joints, became lame and died. They were found to have a septic infection of the joints and a disease of the muscles and bone similar to the flesh-eating bacterial disease that affects humans.
By the time scientists left Enderby Island in late February, 133 of 403 pups had died.
Department of Conservation lists New Zealandâs subantarctic sea lions as endangered, and they are protected.
Their numbers are estimated to be between 10,000 and 16,000 but just 3000 were breeding females.