The Department of Conservation (DOC) is calling for volunteers to help monitor the seal pup pool at Ohau waterfall over the next few months.
DOC ranger Brett Cowan said there were two groups trained up, one comprising about five local volunteers and the other made up of eight people from the Blenheim Convention Centre, who have offered to take the upcoming school holiday slot to give the local volunteers some time off.
Mr Cowan hopes to increase the local group to about eight to 10 volunteers.
The pool is generally populated with seal pups from May to October, although they took volunteers by surprise this year, arriving a whole month early.
Numbers of pups have been fluctuating over recent weeks, with as few as 20 spotted last week. However, they are expected to continue making their way upstream throughout the winter months.
The volunteers are given plenty of training and new helpers can be teamed up with experienced guides. They are also given a toolkit of strategies to use which covers potential situations such as busloads of visitors, people wanting to get in and swim with the seals and people chasing them. Some data recording is also required.
As many people do not read signs, Mr Cowan said it was important to have the guides available to answer questions and ensure the seals are not being bothered in their natural environment. Feedback from visitors at the pool had been overwhelmingly positive, he said.
The New Zealand fur seal has been endangered since the 1970s.
Prospective volunteers can contact Brett Cowan at the Kaikoura DOC office on 3195714.
- © Fairfax NZ News