Size in Square Kilometres
Qualifying Species and Criteria
New Zealand sea lion – Phocarctos hookeri
Criterion A; B (1); C (1; 2)
Southern right whale – Eubalaena australis
Criterion C (1)
New Zealand fur seal – Arctocephalus forsteri
Criterion C (2)
Southern elephant seal – Mirounga leonina
Criterion C (1, 2)
Marine Mammal Diversity
Lagenorhynchus obscurus, Lagenorhynchus cruciger, Megaptera novaeangliae, Balaenoptera physalus, Balaenoptera musculus, Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda, Globicephala melas, Physeter macrocephalus, Orcinus orca, Hydrurga leptonyx
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Auckland Island and Campbell Island are located hundreds of kilometres south of New Zealand’s South Island. They both serve as breeding grounds for the Endangered New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri), as well as southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) and New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri). All three of these pinniped species usually forage close to shore during the period before pups are weaned and begin to disperse (which varies from one species to another). The waters surrounding Auckland Island are also the primary winter breeding ground for the genetically distinct New Zealand population of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis). Non cow-calf pairs are found at Campbell Island, although some individuals move between the two areas. Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) are also observed regularly in these waters. Some individuals move between the Auckland and Campbell Islands as the regions have similar oceanographic dynamics. At least 20 species of marine mammals have been recorded from these waters including migrating, deep-diving and oceanic cetaceans.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
The endemic New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) (NZSL) exhibits a highly restricted breeding range, and was recently upgraded to endangered on the IUCN Red List (Chilvers 2015) and has Nationally Vulnerable status under the New Zealand threat classification system (Baker et al. 2019).
Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance
Sub-criterion B1: Small and Resident Populations
Current numbers are estimated at 11800 individuals including pups (Roberts and Doonan 2016) with breeding populations extending from South Island New Zealand to sub-Antarctic Campbell Island, and exhibiting marked variations in size and trajectories (Childerhouse and Gales 1998). The breeding population of New Zealand sea lions (Phocarctos hookeri) is almost exclusively (98%) contained within the Auckland Island (68%) and Campbell Island (~30%) regions. The maternal care period lasts around 11 months meaning that adult females and pups are resident in the region year-round. Little is known regarding juvenile dispersal at the two sites, however there are indications that juveniles behave as central place foragers at both sites from tracking studies (Leung et al. 2012, Leung et al. 2013, Leung et al. 2014).
Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities
Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas
These islands are the primary breeding grounds for the New Zealand sea lion. The largest population, on the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, accounts for an estimated 68% of the overall annual pup production, while the Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku and Stewart Island populations contribute ~30% and 2% respectively (DOC/MPI 2017). Marine mammal work on Campbell Island is concentrated on New Zealand sea lions, thus little data exists for fur seal breeding colonies in this region. However, there is a breeding colony at Rocky Beach, with at least 10 pups seen in some seasons, but surveys here are not regular (Baird 2011). The Macquarie Island southern elephant seal stock includes the small populations breeding at Campbell and Antipodes Islands (Taylor et al. 1989).
Southern right whales have a circumpolar distribution in the Southern Hemisphere. The main breeding area for genetically distinct New Zealand whales is the Auckland Islands with increasing numbers of juvenile whales at Campbell Island, a very few cow-calf pairs (Patenaude et al. 1998, Carroll et al. 2014, Torres et al. 2016, Carroll et al. 2019). The most recent abundance estimates from 1995-2009 is 2169 whales (95% CL 1836, 2563) with population growth rate of 7% (Carroll et al. 2014). Whilst whale numbers peak in winter, a few calls were detected over the broader summer months (Webster et al. 2019).
Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas
The waters surrounding the Auckland and Campbell Islands provide key foraging habitat for New Zealand sea lions. At the Auckland Islands, sea lions of various age classes (Leung et al. 2012; 2013) and most commonly adult females forage across the continental shelf and shelf edges in the area north and northeast of Enderby Island (Chilvers et al. 2013). Tracking data from male southern elephant seals have shown that they use the shelf habitat associated with the Campbell plateau for foraging (Pascoe et al. 2016).
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