February 8th 2018
K.O.R.I is pleased to announce the successful completion of our first batch of boat-based surveys for 2018!
These surveys are part an ongoing study that began in 2013 which aims to record and monitor the critically endangered Hector’s dolphins found in the waters around Kaikōura.
Our survey routes alternate between the two sides of the Kaikōura Peninsula, taking us as far as the Hapuku River to the North, and the Haumuri Bluffs to the South. We note all the marine mammals we encounter (as well as any penguins!), and also record environmental data as we go.
We are happy to report that among a multitude of other species including dusky dolphins, common dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, little blue penguins and Hutton’s shearwaters, we have had numerous sightings of our main subject matter – the Hector’s dolphin.
Encountering Hector’s dolphins allows us not only to monitor their behaviour and habitat, but also helps us achieve the other main aim of our surveys – to add to our catalogue of recognisable individual Hector’s dolphins.
We use photo identification of the Hector’s dorsal fins in the hope of spotting distinctive markings to distinguish an individual from the group. This isn’t always easy, but the dolphins do help us out as they come close to the boat to play in the swell. The photographs we take then go into our catalogue to help build a picture of the populations we have here.
The surveys we have conducted so far have been possible due to generous funding from several groups – and K.O.R.I would like to thank the Encounter Foundation and The Department of Conservation for helping us carry out this important work.
The analysis of the data so far collected is ongoing, but we are already looking forward to getting back onto the water in March for the next batch of surveys!