Supported Research undertaken on Dolphin Explorer

We support a wide range of research on board the Dolphin Explorer in order to discover, better understand and ultimately better protect the marine environment in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. After all, better management decisions and policies are formed from properly understanding individual species as well as the marine ecosystem as a whole.

 

During our company’s history, and as a requirement of our commercial operator’s permit, we have established a long-term marine mammal sightings database which contributes to the Department of Conservation’s National Sightings Database. As we have now been collecting this data since 2000, it is of significant value to be able to understand inter-annual changes as well as overall changes in the ecosystem with time. We are now also starting to collect data on other aspects of the marine environment including other megafauna (seabirds, sharks…) as well as the microfauna (plankton).

 

Our vessel is the ‘platform of opportunity’ for researchers from local universities to collect valuable data for all of their marine life studies.


 

   

University of Auckland

Dr Rochelle Constantine and her team at the Marine Mammal Ecology Group not only study marine mammals but also other megafauna including sharks and seabirds.

We have facilitated in data collection of their studies for the entirety of the company’s history which has led to a great ongoing working relationship.

Studies of note that we have assisted with include the first ever abundance estimate of Bryde’s whales in the Hauraki Gulf which led to the species being reassigned from a ‘Data Deficient’ to a ‘Nationally Critical’ species status on the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

 

All PDFs of the studies we have been involved with along with their other work can be found HERE.


 

 

 

Massey University 

Dr Karen Stockin and her team at the Coastal-Marine Research Group also study a variety of marine life in the Hauraki Gulf and have been using the Dolphin Explorer as a platform of opportunity for many years. Their specific strengths are marine mammal biology and ecology.

 

Studies of note that we have assisted with include the first ever abundance estimate of common dolphins (Delphinus sp.) in the Hauraki Gulf.

 

The undergraduate Marine Ecology students also partake in an annual Marine Mammalogy field trip onboard.

 

All PDFs of the studies we have been involved with along with their other work can be HERE.


 

 

 

AUT (Auckland University of Technology)

Dr Michael Lück and his team at the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute have been working with us for 10 years to establish the importance of education in marine tourism.

 

The undergraduate Marine Ecology students also partake in an annual Marine Mammalogy field trip onboard.

 


 

Current Projects

  • Dr Krista Hupman (NIWA/Massey University) – Continuing photo-identification data collection for the Hauraki Gulf Cetacean Project
  • Dr Rochelle Constantine & Craig Pritchard (University of Auckland) – Analysis of Bryde’s whale health through scat sample analysis
  • Olivia Hamilton (University of Auckland) – The Hauraki Gulf Marine Megafauna Project – Abundance and distribution research through photo-identification data analysis
  • Sahar Izadi (University of Auckland) – The Foraging Behaviour of Bryde’s whales through analysis of video data

 

We also send our sightings data and accompanying photographs for photo-identification purposes for other species including (but not limited to): orca, blue whales, false killer whales and pilot whales to the relevant researchers in New Zealand.


In addition, we are supporting The Secchi Disk Study - a global citizen science project that collects data based on water clarity which indicates the presence of plankton in the water. To learn more, click HERE.