Ros Cole takes ID photos of seals

Image: Sabine Bernert | ©


DOC's research into the New Zealand fur seal includes population monitoring and assessing the impact of tourism and fishing.

DOC's work

Read stories about DOC's work with New Zealand fur seal


Population monitoring research by DOC occurs at three West Coast colonies. DOC is looking to increase the effort on resighting tagged animals in an effort to better understand pup and adult survival. You can help by reporting sightings of tagged fur seals.

In addition, work on the foraging behaviour of female fur seals was investigated at one of the West Coast colonies, Cape Foulwind, along with the colony at Ohau Point, Kaikoura.

Research was also undertaken in Kaikoura to trial new, less invasive methods of population monitoring, using drones and thermal imagery.

The impacts of tourism were investigated at four key sites: Tonga Island, Kaikoura, Banks Peninsula, and Whakatane.

There has also been considerable research more recently on fur seal genetics, population expansion, and testing whether or not genetics will allow us to tell where a seal was born.

This research would help to determine which populations are more at risk of fisheries bycatch. However, research is suggesting that there is not enough genetic differentiation between fur seal populations for this method to be useful.

Read a factsheet summarising recent research on the techniques used for monitoring NZ fur seals: Fur seals: new tracking technology (PDF, 10,016K)

DOC’s work related to the fishing impacts on fur seals is undertaken within its Conservation Services Programme.

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