Impact of earthquakes on wildlife
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionIt is clear from reports that the recent earthquakes have impacted upon wildlife, including seals, penguins and seabirds.
Date: 16 November 2016
DOC's immediate priority in the aftermath of the earthquakes is to assist Civil Defence with the recovery effort, including ensuring that structures and tracks are safe.
DOC is aware there has been a large slip at Ohau point which is a specially protected Seal Sanctuary. Images indicate the landslips are likely to have resulted in casualties to seals. Some seals will likely have been out at sea foraging and so may not have been impacted.
There are still places north and south of Ohau point where seals can haul themselves out to rest. Another significant species impacted is the Hutton's shearwater, and other species such as blue penguins may have been impacted.
Seals and seabirds are often found breeding or resting in exposed areas, such as a cliff or seashore, and so may be prone to further slips or landslides. It will be important that the safety of the researchers can be ensured before visiting seal or seabird colonies.
For this reason, a full assessment of the impact of the earthquakes on our wildlife may take several weeks.
25 November 2016 update
- A large slip has come down at Ohau Point on top of the Ohau Point seal colony, however there are still a good number of seals nearby. Hundreds of newborn pups have been seen north of where the Ohau Point landslide fell – these would have been born since the November 14 earthquake.
- Hector’s dolphins and dusky dolphins have been seen along the Kaikoura coast.
- It’s estimated that about 10-15% of the Hutton’s shearwater colony at Kowhai Stream in the Kaikoura Ranges has been affected by slips. Landslides have also affected the Hutton’s shearwaters colony in Shearwater Stream but the extent of this is not yet known. Flocks of Hutton’s shearwater seabirds have been seen feeding out at sea.
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