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Marine Mammals Need Our Help To Harness The Power Of Citizen Scientists

Aotearoa’s marine environment is one of the most unique in the world and home to more than 80% of our biodiversity. It is more than four million square kilometres of ocean or approximately 15 times the size of our land area. This is a lot of ocean and currently, less than one percent of it is protected.

Nearly half of the world’s cetaceans (whales, porpoises, and dolphins) are found in Aotearoa’s waters. They, and other taonga species, face serious threats from habitat degradation, climate change, microplastics, pollution, and fishing. In order to effectively protect these incredible species, we need to better understand where they are and how many are left. Unfortunately, many of our marine mammal species are listed as data deficient meaning we don’t know a lot about them - something that puts them under threat.

To help understand more about marine mammals, WWF-New Zealand in association with MĀUI63 and a number of other important stakeholders are developing a marine mammal sightings APP.

“An historical lack of research funding for marine mammals has led to lack of data. We want to change this by harnessing the power of the people using our ocean - the citizen scientists, marine experts, conservationists, fishers, and tourism companies - to report their sightings of these species. The development of a user-friendly app will make it easy for any one to log their sightings of marine mammals,” says Dr Krista van der Linde, WWF-New Zealand Marine Species Programme Manager.

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The data collected will be used to conduct long-term studies to better understand the size of their populations, their movements, and the threats they face. This information will be available to government agencies, conservation groups, and scientists. By understanding more about marine mammal populations, we can not only increase our knowledge of these mammals and their habitats but also better understand how we can reduce the threats they face in order to better protect them.

Thousands of dollars have been invested in the creation of this APP, but more funding is needed. WWF-New Zealand is asking for the public’s help to raise $30,000 to get this APP built and in the hands of New Zealanders.

“We have been so lucky to have some incredible partners come to the table to offer exclusive rewards to donors to help us reach our goal. From WWF Goodie bags to Whale Watch Kaikōura tickets, to a one-night luxury stay at Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses and a marine species adventure experience with South Pacific Helicopters - donors giving at set levels will get to enjoy these exclusive rewards and help us reach our goal to get this APP made,” adds Dr van der Linde.


To learn more about the app, visit:

To donate and take advantage of these exclusive rewards, visit:

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