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Comparative Study
, 52 (4), 442-6

Entanglement of New Zealand Fur Seals in Man-Made Debris at Kaikoura, New Zealand

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Comparative Study

Entanglement of New Zealand Fur Seals in Man-Made Debris at Kaikoura, New Zealand

Laura J Boren et al. Mar Pollut Bull.

Abstract

New Zealand fur seals in the Kaikoura region breed near a town with expanding tourist and fishing industries and commonly come ashore entangled in nets and plastic debris. However, the rate at which entanglement occurs was previously unknown. A decade of Department of Conservation seal callout data was analysed to determine the level of entanglement in the region and the most common debris type. Monitoring of adult female fur seals released from entanglement provided information on the potential for serious wounds to heal and survivorship of released individuals. Entanglement rates of pinnipeds in Kaikoura are some of the highest reported world-wide (average range: 0.6-2.8%) with green trawl net (42%), and plastic strapping tape (31%) together contributing the most to debris types. Nearly half of the reported entangled seals are successfully released (43%) and post-release monitoring shows that with appropriate intervention the chance of an individual surviving even with a significant entanglement wound is high. Our study demonstrates that while entanglement in the region is high, a successful intervention protocol may help reduce the potential for entanglement-related mortality in the region.

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