Our projects

New Zealand Storm Petrel Project

We have some lofty goals for this cryptic little bird over the next two years:



Estimate population size for NZSP on Te Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island through on-island captures/recaptures and at-sea surveys



Establish a trial breeding colony to enable easy study of the species’ biology - building on techniques developed with Chatham taiko and Chatham petrel.



Maintain surveillance of known natural breeding sites with minimal disturbance

We administer this project - in collaboration with: DOC, Ngati Manuhiri, Auckland Museum, Landcare Research, University of Auckland, Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand)
Funding through the Dinah Francis Gavin Bequest Fund (administered by DOC)
Kermadec Seabirds


Seabirds, as marine creatures, have a vital role in helping develop our understanding of the complex marine world encompassed by the Kermadec Island Nature Reserves and newly announced Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.


Our work contributes to this important programme by monitoring post-eradication changes to Raoul Island’s ecology and seabird populations.

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Seabird restoration projects
Rakitu (Arid Island) 
Tawharanui Open Sanctuary
Shakespear Open Sanctuary 
The Noises (with the Neureuter family)
Habitat Tuateawa (Coromandel Peninsula)

Photo: Richard Robinson

Burgess Island Seabird Research Facility


Since our first visit in April 2004, we, together with colleagues from DOC, Auckland Museum, Auckland Council, University of Auckland, Massey University, Lund University (Sweden), GEOMAR (Kiel, Germany) and Landcare Research have been working on a fascinating variety of research projects on Burgess Island: seabird and land bird surveys & counts; vegetation surveys; acoustic monitoring; at sea ecology; petrel dive physiology; breeding ecology of white-faced storm-petrel, fluttering shearwater).

Diving behaviour of petrels and shearwaters


Our scientific research aims to

  • Determine, through specific experimental trials, the diving capabilities and behaviour of black petrels, flesh-footed shearwaters and other species that interact with commercial and recreational fishing activities

  • To document the environmental and operational factors which affect this behaviour

  • And to provide recommendations on methods for reducing by-catch risk based on seabird diving behaviour.


With Megan Friesen and Richard Robinson, Depth NZ 


(Contract for DOC Conservation Services Programme)

Buller's shearwaters - Poor Knights Islands

Buller’s shearwater (Ardenna bulleri) is an endemic procellariiform to New Zealand. It’s only nesting site is the Poor Knights Islands group and it is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. In spite of it being a commonly seen species in the Hauraki Gulf during their breeding season the overall ecology of this species remains little studied. Evidence suggests that foraging trips during incubation may have increased in the past 40 years from 4 to up to 14 days and new at-sea records of adults suggest they could be traveling further south in single foraging bouts during chick provisioning. Recent visits (2011-2012) to the Poor Knights Islands (Aorangi Island) during breeding indicate that previous population estimates appear to be far too high or the population has declined significantly.  The objective of this study is to investigate Buller’s shearwater populations and breeding biology at the Poor Knights Islands including assessing the duration of incubating and chick provisioning shifts. We aim to have a preliminary population estimate by the end of 2017.

Two teams (led by Megan Friesen) have completed a comprehensive survey of Tawhiti Rahi Island (the largest of the Poor Knights group) 5-17 December - the first detailed seabird survey of this very species island.


(Support through a grant from the Birds NZ Research Fund)