Marine Mammals

Latest news

Just past the locks, alarms and big heavy doors is a rather macabre sight.
Researchers are keeping a close eye on Owha, the leopard seal that has made Auckland Harbour her home, after she was seen bleeding from her face on Saturday morning.
New Zealand’s newest citizens like the solitary life, have leopard-like markings, and can each weigh up to 600kg.
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.

Our work

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.

Information gathered by whalers in the 19th century to support the systematic killing of southern right whales in Australasian offshore waters has been used by NIWA scientists to better understand – and ultimately help protect – the present-day habitats of this endangered species.

International Congress for Conservation Biology

5 December 2011 to 9 December 2011

NIWA is sponsoring the 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology.

NIWA staff are running three workshop 'Think Tanks' before the conference, these worksops are:

Implications of environmental change to Antarctic ecosystems 2, 3, 4 December, for more information contact 

Deep-sea coral research to enhance conservation 2, 3 December, for more information contact

The return of the upgraded RV Tangaroa represents a huge advancement for New Zealand science and exploration

NIWA today welcomed home RV Tangaroa, New Zealand’s only deepwater research vessel, after a $20 million dollar upgrade to enhance its ocean science and survey capabilities.

The world’s largest, non-lethal whale research expedition has returned from Antarctic waters with a range of new information that will help inform future marine mammal conservation.

The joint Australia-New Zealand Antarctic Whale Expedition is underway on-board NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa. The Australian Antarctic Division have released this progress report.



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