A sea lion pup born in the back yard of the Keddell family's Harwood home earlier this year has gone missing.
New Zealand sea lion Lorelie gave birth to the pup on New Year's Eve and had been raising it at Harwood until a few weeks ago, when she and the pup moved to Te Rauone Beach on Otago Peninsula.
But in the past two or three days, locals have reported the sea lion had been calling for her pup but there was no trace of it.
Department of Conservation ranger Jim Fyfe said he was concerned for the wellbeing of the pup and asked the public to help locate it.
"Quite a few of the locals have had a look around to see if they could find the pup but they haven't been able to."
People in the Otakou area were being asked to keep an eye out and check their sections for small seals or sea lions in case the pup was trapped or stuck somewhere. If the pup had been lost while out at sea it could end up anywhere on the peninsula or in Otago Harbour, Mr Fyfe said.
Sea lion pups could survive for about a week without their mother before they became dehydrated and weak, Mr Fyfe said.
If people found a pup on the peninsula they should take a photo and send it to Doc, so rangers could check if it was the missing one.
There were a number of possible reasons for the pup's disappearance and there had been instances of
pups being separated from their mothers and later found, Mr Fyfe said.
"It could be anywhere. We just don't know at the moment, so that's why we're asking for some help."
In most other instances the Department of Conservation would let nature "run its course" but because Lorelie was one of a small number of female sea lions that bred on mainland, each one was vital to the the survival of the species, he said.
• Department of Conservation: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 477 0677.