When you work with plants you face a broad range of problems and challenges getting them established in a conservation context. You worry about your site selection, choice of species, whether its too wet or too dry and ultimately you can only hope that your training and instinct is enough to ensure that your hard work and planning creates success. A recent trip to look at the Pikao (Ficinia spiralis) plot that Spiralis Ltd sponsors at Allan’s Beach revealed a very unique challenge to coastal dune conservation. The recent weather pattern that the Otago Peninsula has been experiencing has brought a stiff round of easterly winds and associated coastal swells that has undermined the front two metres of the toe of the dune. That’s fairly typical at this time of the year as we move from winter into spring, but it means some of last years planting has been lost. On the upside, the remaining plants are in very good condition and have established very strongly on the site. One new challenge that was found today is the use of the pikao area by sea lions as a haul out site for a comfortable snooze. Now its very hard to get sympathy when you complain that “a sea lion has squashed our pikao” especially when these fascinating animals are becoming so rare in New Zealand. However, like all challenges in plant restoration there are some that you have to accept, and this particular challenge is one that you can’t really complain about. Besides, with hectares of marram grass available along the beach, these sea lions obviously have taste!