The NZ marine environment has various seascapes, rock pools, and beaches, but two-thirds of it is usually 1000 metres deep under the surfaces. These depths are estimated to have more than 700 seamounts (mountains inside the sea), even though many of them haven’t been seen. Most of these seamounts are far larger than many land mountains in New Zealand including Mount Cook. These water depths also have several numbers of trenches and plains.

Renowned to be the fourth largest marine environment in the world, New Zealand’s marine environment spans over four million square kilometres of ocean. Bounded by the South Pacific Ocean on the East and the Tasman Sea on the West, every hour away from the coast drags you closer to another inland point in New Zealand.

The species and marine ecosystem in the small Oceania country are highly diverse, and up to date, over 8000 marine species have been discovered in the depth of New Zealand waters. The waters are occupied by uncommon and glittering creatures, New Zealand boast of about twenty-nine marine reserves which are scattered around the country which include the South Island, North Island, and other adjoining Islands.

Marine species in New Zealand waters include;

  • 2000 species of molluscs (squid, snail, and shellfish)
  • 900 seaweed species
  • 400 species of echinoderms (starfish and kina)
  • 964 fish species.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul.”

-Robert Wyland

Native Marine Mammals in New Zealand
It is on records that almost half of the world’s cetaceans (Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales) dwell in the depth of New Zealand waters. Some of these native mammals include –
The Hector’s Dolphin

(The smallest marine Dolphin in the world) – This intelligent Dolphin is much smaller than other Dolphin species found in New Zealand. A full-grown adult Hector’s Dolphin measures between 1.2 – 1, 4 metres and they are a bit rounder in shape compared to other Dolphins.

The New Zealand Fur Seal

Commonly found in South, West Australia, and mainly in New Zealand, the population if the Fur Seal is estimated to be over 58000. In New Zealand, they are mostly habitats in Tasmanian waters lying along the southern and western coasts. Like the Australian Fur Seal, they deliver only 100 pups annually which are breeds mostly in the remote Islands off the South coasts.

Hooker’s Sea Lion

This is one of the rare five Sea Lion species in the world. Due to its rarity, they are localised regionally as they breed solely in the Auckland Islands of New Zealand and the sub-Antarctic regions. A very few are bred on Campbell Island, New Zealand and the total number of Hooker’s Sea Lions in New Zealand is approximately 12,500.

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes Antipodes)

One of the rarest species of Penguin found only in New Zealand, these creatures live and breed within the south-east coast of South Island in Stewart Island. Other places they can be found include the Campbell Islands and sub-Antarctic Auckland. They are referred to as Hoiho by the Maori.


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