the kekenō (New Zealand fur seal
Kaikōura is a coastal town on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s known for its abundant wildlife, specifically marine mammals. This region is visited by 23 different transient species as well as being home to four resident marine mammals:
- the kekenō (New Zealand fur seal
- Hector’s dolphin
- Dusky dolphin
- Sperm whale (is there a reo name for these?????)
While there are plenty of different marine mammals (diversity) in Kaikōura, marine mammal populations are not abundant.
For example, sperm whale populations have declined from 89 individual whales in 1991, to 40 individual whales in 2017 (Somerford et al. 2022) and the current population size is unknown. Population declines such as these for sperm whales are likely driven by the number of threats marine mammal populations face including anthropogenic noise (what is that??????), entanglement in fishing gear, ingestion of plastic and debris, ship strikes, toxic contaminants, fisheries competition, climate change and increasing tourism; all of which can have cumulative and long-lasting effects.
Conversely, marine mammal tourism in this region generates more than $119 million dollars pa and employs three out of every four residents.
Our very wellbeing will be threatened if we don’t find a balance – for example, there is only one funded marine mammal research project in the region now.
MoanaMark has been launched in Kaikōura to find that balance. By encouraging local businesses to fund marine mammal conservation projects, we will ensure long-term data collection and research that will not only determine the level of threats faced by marine mammals, but also work towards better protection and conservation of their populations to ensure our futures.
Working better by working together.