Marine Mammals

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A new scientific assessment of Hector’s and Māui dolphins has led to a revised understanding of their biology, their distribution and their main threats.
For more than a year a frozen slab of leopard seal poo sat in a NIWA freezer. The poo, known scientifically as scat and about the size of two bread rolls, is as good as gold for leopard seal researchers.
A leopard seal, who has made the balmy waters around Auckland home, is prompting a NIWA scientist to campaign for her to be made a New Zealand citizen.
A NIWA-led team of marine ecologists are using seal-mounted cameras to get a first-hand view into the behaviour and movements of Weddell seals under the Antarctic ice.

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Māui dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, are listed as nationally critical in New Zealand with a population estimate between 57 and 75 dolphins over one year old.
The aim of this voyage was to examine the movement and habitat utilization of pygmy blue whales in New Zealand waters.
The sounds of whales and dolphins rarely seen in New Zealand waters have been recorded in a pioneering underwater sound project.

The main breeding population of New Zealand sea lions at the Auckland Islands has halved in size since the late-1990s; NIWA scientists are working with the government and experts from around New Zealand and overseas to understand why.

Latest videos

Weddell seals - web
A NIWA-led team of marine ecologists are using seal-mounted cameras to get a first-hand view into the behaviour and movements of Weddell seals under the Antarctic ice.
Southern right whale observed in Wellington Harbour

On 4 July 2018 NIWA photographer Dave Allen took some close-up footage of a southern right whale seen surfacing in Wellington Harbour for several days. Dave worked alongside marine ecologist Kim Goetz, fisheries technician Pete Notman and Department of Conservation staff to take a biopsy sample for genetic analysis and acoustic recordings taken for NIWA's ongoing whale research.

Breakfast with Ebony - Episode 1

Plastic spoons aren’t always used for eating - fisheries scientist Dr Jim Roberts found them handy when studying sub-Antarctic sea lions. Find out just how in the first of our new series presented by our inquisitive mailroom administrator Ebony Barrett.

Pilot whale ((Globicephala sp.) calls detected by acoustic recorder stationed in Cook Strait, New Zealand
Pilot whale (Globicephala sp.) calls detected by acoustic recorder stationed in Cook Strait, New Zealand from December 2016 to January 2017.
A new scientific assessment of Hector’s and Māui dolphins has led to a revised understanding of their biology, their distribution and their main threats.
For more than a year a frozen slab of leopard seal poo sat in a NIWA freezer. The poo, known scientifically as scat and about the size of two bread rolls, is as good as gold for leopard seal researchers.
The Ross Sea Region Research and Monitoring Programme (Ross-RAMP) is a five-year research programme funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and run by NIWA to evaluate the effectiveness of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area.
A leopard seal, who has made the balmy waters around Auckland home, is prompting a NIWA scientist to campaign for her to be made a New Zealand citizen.
From 8 Jan - 27 Feb 2019 RV Tangaroa is undertaking a six-week research voyage to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. On board scientists, supported by 19 crew members, will be studying ocean, atmosphere and ecosystem processes with the focus on establishing monitoring programmes for the newly created Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Weddell seals - web
A NIWA-led team of marine ecologists are using seal-mounted cameras to get a first-hand view into the behaviour and movements of Weddell seals under the Antarctic ice.
A NIWA-led team of marine ecologists are using seal-mounted cameras to get a first-hand view into the behaviour and movements of Weddell seals under the Antarctic ice.
Scientists will be trying to understand how Antarctic-based Weddell seals see the world when they head to the ice next week.
The new science season at Antarctica is just a few days away from opening and NIWA researchers are busy packing containers and shipping them to the ice where they will be reunited with them in the coming months.
Identifying dolphins using photos of the unique pigment patterns on their fins can be used to help in the management of a species, says a NIWA scientist.
Wellington’s whale may be a sign they are returning to their historical habitat, says NIWA.
Southern right whale observed in Wellington Harbour

On 4 July 2018 NIWA photographer Dave Allen took some close-up footage of a southern right whale seen surfacing in Wellington Harbour for several days. Dave worked alongside marine ecologist Kim Goetz, fisheries technician Pete Notman and Department of Conservation staff to take a biopsy sample for genetic analysis and acoustic recordings taken for NIWA's ongoing whale research.

Two yet-to-be identified species of beaked whales have been detected in the Cook Strait region. Identifying which species they are is important for understanding the status of marine mammal populations in New Zealand waters.
The aim of this voyage was to examine the movement and habitat utilization of pygmy blue whales in New Zealand waters.

A couple of days ago we deployed the last of three long-term passive acoustic monitoring moorings, as a collaboration between the Ross-RAMP MBIE Endeavour project and The Australian Antarctic Division.

A two-week expedition to tag blue whales in New Zealand waters for the first time, almost came up empty due to warmer sea temperatures causing the animals to change their behaviour.
Beachgoers are being asked to look out for leopard seals over summer and report sightings as soon as possible.
A leopard seal pup born off St Kilda beach, Dunedin, on Tuesday has been found to have only had 10 per cent of normal lung capacity.
A leopard seal has spent so much time in New Zealand waters she has prompted a NIWA scientist to challenge conventional thinking about the species.
The sounds of whales and dolphins rarely seen in New Zealand waters have been recorded in a pioneering underwater sound project.
Breakfast with Ebony - Episode 1

Plastic spoons aren’t always used for eating - fisheries scientist Dr Jim Roberts found them handy when studying sub-Antarctic sea lions. Find out just how in the first of our new series presented by our inquisitive mailroom administrator Ebony Barrett.

Māui dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, are listed as nationally critical in New Zealand with a population estimate between 57 and 75 dolphins over one year old.
Pilot whale ((Globicephala sp.) calls detected by acoustic recorder stationed in Cook Strait, New Zealand
Pilot whale (Globicephala sp.) calls detected by acoustic recorder stationed in Cook Strait, New Zealand from December 2016 to January 2017.

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