New Zealand Wildlife Fund
NZ Wildlife Fund
Hiking New Zealand is committed to putting something back into the New Zealand wilderness, and since October 1998 we have been contributing $5 per safari client into a Wildlife Research Fund - to date we have donated $60,000. This fund has contributed to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust to assist with conservation of Hector's dolphin - one of the rarest marine dolphins in the world, found only in New Zealand waters. We often view these playful dolphins on our safaris and hope they will still be there in the years to come.
New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust
New Zealand is one of the World's great hotspots for marine mammals. Of 77 species of dolphins and whales worldwide, 35 are recorded from our shores. We have some of the world's most accessible whale and dolphin populations. Research by Trustees, and research supported by the Trust, has provided a wealth of new knowledge, uncovered significant conservation problems and has made a major contribution to finding solutions to these problems. Yet we have only scratched the surface - there are many opportunities for trail-blazing research with a clear ecological and conservation focus. The purpose of this trust is to foster such research, to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge and to ensure effective conservation of these remarkable animals.
The Trust's research is directed by Dr Stephen Dawson and Dr Elisabeth Slooten, internationally recognized scientists who are committed to the conservation biology and ecology of whales and dolphins. Their direction of Trust projects ensures emphasis on questions of conservation significance, and a focus not just on gathering knowledge, but on identifying solutions to problems.
Currently the Trust is actively involved in five projects:
1. Developing low-cost survey methods for threatened dolphins and porpoises
2. Conservation biology of Hector's dolphin
3. Ecology and behaviour of Bottlenose dolphins in one of the world's last pristine habitats - Fiordland, New Zealand
4. What are the impacts of nature tourism - how can we ensure benefits for marine mammals and tourists?
5. Understanding the most extraordinary whale - the sperm whale.
We welcome support from innovative and environmentally aware companies like Hiking New Zealand!
Dr. Liz Slooten
New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust
c/- Marine Science Department,
University of Otago,
P.O. Box 56, Dunedin,
The population survey of Hector's dolphins is continuing, and we will soon have a robust and up-to-date population estimate enabling more effective management of these populations. The low-cost survey methods which have been developed as part of this study are proving valuable. A new project has been started examining the distribution and abundance of Hector's dolphins in relation to oceanographic features such as temperature, salinity and primary productivity and also looking at patterns of dolphin movement.
A current priority concerning Hector's dolphins is the North Island population. This population is genetically distinct from the South Island ones, and numbers less than 100 individuals. It is currently at risk due to gill netting so its protection is imperative. The management of this population is currently under review and the Minister of Fisheries has asked for input.
**As of 1 October 2008, extensive new protection measures were implemented, as anounced by Jim Anderton, the Minister of Fisheries.**
The protection measures include a ban on gillnets:
* out to 7 nautical miles (n mi) for part of the North Island west coast
* to 4 n mi for the east and south coast of the South Island
* to 2 n mi, for 3 months in summer, for the west coast South Island
In addition, trawling has been banned out to 2 n mi for the east and south coast of the South Island and part of North Island west coast. An extension to the Banks Peninsula Sanctuary plus 4 new Marine Mammal Sanctuaries aim to manage threats like pollution, marine mining, aquaculture and tidal energy generation. Sanctuary regulations are expected to be developed over the next year, after public consultation.
The Trust’s research has been central in these decisions. Data on dolphin distribution helped to define the boundaries of the proposed Marine Mammal Sanctuaries. Information on population size and breeding rate help determine the level of risk and showed that nationwide protection from fishing deaths was needed to allow the species to recover and to meet national and international guidelines for marine mammal protection.
Acoustic census techniques are being used to study sperm whales. These whales spend around 80% of their time diving making them difficult to study visually. However the acoustic techniques are excellent for gathering data regarding the number of whales in an area, how long they spend diving and feeding, and their seasonal movements.
The impact of tourism on dolphins is being studied in Fiordland and Motunau. Boat traffic is increasing in Fiordland which may be detrimental to the bottlenose dolphins there. The short-term effects of boat traffic on dolphin movements and behavior is being monitored so that long term impacts can be predicted. A new dolphin watching operation is being established at Motunau based on a small (<20) population of Hectors dolphins. Baseline population data is being collected so that the effects of the tour operation can be determined, providing DoC with recommendations for management of the population.
Link to their site NZ Whale and Dolphin Trust
Other sites of interest:Orca Research.org - Ingrid Visser's website on her work on Orca in New Zealand
got to see my first snow, my first
glacier, my first Fiordland crested
penguin and lots of wonderful views
of the West Coast.
I had a grouse time despite of and all because of your cheeky antics (they kept me laughing).
Thanks for the wake up cups of tea that stopped me sleeping my holidays away. If you're in Melbourne, come and visit."