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The Auckland Islands are an isolated archipelago of islands far south of New Zealand. They might seem bleak, but they are a surprising sanctuary for wildlife. In summer, hordes of giant sea lions descend upon a desolate beach, and testosterone-driven males begin bloody battles for mating rights. When the pregnant females return to give birth on the beach, chaos ensues. The pups are always in danger of being squashed by overly eager males. Some of the rarest penguins on the planet, the yellow-eyed penguins, are also breeding here and must constantly evade the huge brawling male sea lions. Southern royal albatross, giant petrels, and skuas are other species that go to extremes to ensure their offspring’s survival. The summer drama in the sub-Antarctic islands peaks as the sea lion pups dare to take their first ocean swims.
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