10 Facts about the Seabirds of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
1. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is a very important area for seabirds in New Zealand and the world. Over 70 (approximately 20%) of the world’s seabird species have been seen here!
2. 27 species are known to breed here with 5 species breeding only in the Marine Park and its close surrounds and nowhere else in world. These 5 species are the: Buller’s shearwater, black petrel, NZ fairy tern, NZ storm petrel and Pycroft’s petrel.
3. Australasian gannets dive at heights of up to 30m and speeds of over 100km/h kilometres an hour into the sea, they are a beautiful sight to be seen! Often seen feeding with other marine life including whales and dolphins, the diving can last for hours and can consist of thousands of these birds diving into the same area like a continuous waterfall.
4. There are 5 species of shearwater seen here: Buller’s shearwater, fluttering shearwater, sooty shearwater, flesh-footed shearwater and the little shearwater. Depending on the species they can be seen alone or in flocks of several thousand!
5. New Zealand is the penguin capital of the world and the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is home to the smallest species of them all – the little blue penguin. Often seen in rafts (or waddles!) particularly on calm days as they spend the day feeding at sea before returning to the pest-free islands to rest at night.
6. Storm petrels, also known as Jesus birds, are easily identified through their ability to ‘walk on water’. Feeding on plankton and krill, they are often seen in the same area as the resident Bryde’s whales.
7. New Zealand storm petrels were thought to be extinct until 2003 when they were rediscovered! Ten years later, scientists discovered them to be breeding on one of the least disturbed islands in the area, Little Barrier Island.
8. As well as many commonly seen seabird species, the Hauraki Gulf is often visited by passing species such as giant petrels, noddies, Arctic skua, boobies, albatross and cape petrels
9. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park hosts petrel species such as grey-faced petrels, Cook’s petrels and black petrels that nest in the area but feed in the Tasman Sea to the west of Auckland. The two areas are linked together by the ‘North Auckland Seabird Flyway’ and is highly used over the summer breeding season.
10. Thanks to the many pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf, seabird species are able to nest, breed and feed successfully in Auckland making it a fantastic place to add several species to any twitcher’s list!