Marine Mammal Ecology Lab

Sabbatical in New Zealand (2008-2009)

Sabbatical Plan

My wife Lisa and I were in Kaikoura, a small town along the Kaikoura Peninsula on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand.  We arrived in October 2008 to study the interactions between humans and New Zealand fur seals at the Kaikoura Peninsula and the Ohau Stream Waterfall.  Lisa also volunteered at the primary schools in town. We sadly departed in June 2009.

Photo of Kaikoura Range from Atawhai (our home base)

The New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) population in Kaikoura is in close proximity to an expanding human population.  This increasing human population, in parallel with fur seal re-colonization, has raised concerns over the potential impacts of human disturbance on fur seals. 

The goals of the project were to:

  • Describe the compliance of tourists to regulations on seal watching in the Kaikoura Peninsula and at the Ohau Stream Waterfall.
  • Estimate the short-term impact of tourists on theseals at Kaikoura Peninsula and the pups at the Ohau Stream Waterfall.

The study was conducted in collaboration with:

The study also benefited tremendously from the assistance of the Eckerd College Marine Mammal Class of 2009.

To read my wife's blogs, click on the links to the right.