The St Clair Salt Water Pool in Dunedin fringes the coastline of southern New Zealand; passed the shore there is nothing between St Clair and the Antarctic. The usual patrons of the public pool are human, but yesterday they had a slightly different kind of customer.
Although the pool is right next to the ocean, the sea lion didn't jump the fence. Apparently the she walked right in through the automatic front doors and made her way to the pool deck without any objections. Once she found the outdoor area she stationed herself next to the kiddie pool and, much to the amazement of pool patrons, peacefully sunbathed without interruption.
Swimmers were at first excited to see the docile sea lion, taking pictures and continuing to swim while she basked in the sun. Eventually, though, they realised that she couldn't stay there forever and the Department of Conservation was called.
The sea lion's fun was over (or just beginning?) when David Agnew, a representative from the Department of Conservation arrived to help guide her back to the ocean. He tried to chase her off of the pool deck towards the ocean with a pair of hockey sticks, a stretcher and a piece of fence but it wasn't exactly a successful tactic. Sea lions have no fear of hockey sticks, and after an ineffective bout of stick waving and fence pushing, the friendly sea lion ended up in the big pool for a few laps.
Eventually they figured out that the sea lion was seriously loving the attention she was getting from the excited swimmers, and that the only way to deal with her way to ignore her. Once the pool patrons were moved out of sight the sea lion quickly became bored and made her own way out - again, not over the fence, but through the front doors.
Lessons learned: don't build a pool right next to the ocean, sea lions don't fear your hockey sticks and are attention seeking animals. At least she was polite enough to use the front door?