The Picton Bays (Shakespeare Bay, Picton Bay, Waikawa Bay) and the surrounding land support a wide variety of wild life.
The Port is actively working and collaborating to better understand our harbour environment so that we can do our best to protect the welfare of its inhabitants.
We know that dolphins and sometimes whales visit Picton Bays, so in 2019 we worked with the Cawthron Institute to set up a monitoring programme to help us learn more about their movements in the area.
A series of acoustic monitoring buoys were installed, and collected acoustic data for a full year so that any seasonal differences were included.
The data confirmed that dolphins regularly visit Picton Harbour and Shakespeare Bay.
There were quite marked seasonal differences, with bottlenose and dusky dolphins visiting almost daily during winter and spring, but only occasionally over summer and autumn. Hectors Dolphins were detected near the end of The Snout on just a handful of occasions and only in June and April. This is consistent with known small populations whose home territories are further out in the Sounds.
Orca are also known to visit the area (and did so soon after conclusion of the monitoring work).
While no whales were detected during the survey period, in recent years a juvenile humpback whale also visited, spending several days in the harbour around Westshore.
The Marlborough Sounds is home to a wide range of seabirds, and surveys around the Port and Marina operational areas have identified at least 31 specific species including:
In October 2020, Port Marlborough partnered with Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary to investigate the kororā population in Picton Bays. The survey work was undertaken by Alastair Judkins and his specially trained penguin dog Mena, and Jody Weir of the Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute.
The survey results were very encouraging, with close to 50 nesting sites in identified including strong populations around some parts of the operational port area, and smaller populations at Waikawa.
With this baseline survey data now in place, an ongoing monitoring plan is in place along with habitat improvement initiatives in partnership with Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary.