The sight of the wharf early on Thursday morning looked something akin to a murder scene after 17 seagulls were horribly killed overnight.
Kaikoura Marine Centre and Aquarium founder Megan Bosch was one of the first on the scene that morning and was horrified by what met her eyes - 17 dead seagulls, blood and feathers strewn the entire length of the wharf.
Someone enticed them with food, then shot them to stun them before driving over them, an act of barbarity which shocked her.
"I know people think they are just seagulls but it's the mentality behind the cruelty that is so outrageous. It's scary that they get a thrill out of it and we live among these people," she said.
"This is a horrible sight for tourists to this town. These people who did this have got no respect for the town that feeds them."
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the police were contacted. DOC staff removed the dead birds and cleaned up the area.
Sergeant Julian Lewis said he had been alerted to the dead gulls by a number of concerned people, who were disgusted by what they described as a massacre.
"Police are also disgusted," he said. "We are following a strong line of inquiry, and working closely with DOC to identify those responsible."
He said police would also like to hear from any members of the public who may have information leading to the culprits.
This is not the first time seagulls have been shot and run over at the wharf - the Kaikoura Star reported two separate incidents in July 2011 as well as others in previous years.
- Kaikoura Star