Shags and Seals

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Mon 14 Jul 2014 22:47
Spotted Shags, Fur Seals and Friends
After our wonderful ‘up close and personal’ experience with the albatross and friends, Gary crossed the bay and took us toward a rock covered with red-billed gulls.
A busy group.
The next rock we met the spotted shag for the first time.
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As Gary got us closer, we noticed their stripy head and fancy hair do. 
Then one showed off the spots on his wings.
The spotted shag or parekareka (Phalacrocorax punctatus) is a species of cormorant endemic to New Zealand. Originally classified as Phalacrocorax punctatus, it is sufficiently different in appearance from typical members of that genus that to be for a time placed in a separate genus, Stictocarbo, along with another similar species, the Pitt shag.

Compared with typical cormorants, the spotted shag is a light-coloured bird. Its back is brown. Its belly is pale blue-grey (often appearing white), and the white continues up the sides of the neck and face, but the throat and the top of the head are dark blue-green. In the mating season, it has an obvious double crest. There is little sexual dimorphism.




Spotted shags feed at sea, often in substantial flocks, taking its prey from mid-water rather than the bottom. It is likely that pilchard and anchovy are important prey species.

Spotted shags nest in colonies of 10-700 pairs, these colonies are generally found on the ledges of coastal cliffs or on rocky islets. In the South Island, they are particularly readily observed around Banks Peninsula; there is a large nesting colony immediately south of the city of Christchurch. In Wellington Harbour there is a large colony on a rocky outcrop known as "Shag Rock" just off the south-west end of Matiu/Somes Island. In the Hauraki Gulf there is a breeding colony on Tarahiki Island.


1988 bird stamps

The spotted shag was featured on a 60-cent New Zealand postage stamp first issued in 1988, in a series devoted to native birds.





The black-backed gull here is a very handsome chap.





The other side of the rock was covered with resting fur seals.





These two look as if they are howling at the moon, they are in fact, silently organising their sleep spaces. 


Fur seals are any of nine species of pinnipeds in the Otariidae family. One species, the northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) inhabits the North Pacific, while seven species in the Arctocephalus genus are found primarily in the Southern Hemisphere. They are much more closely related to sea lions than true seals, and share with them external ears (pinnae), relatively long and muscular foreflippers, and the ability to walk on all fours. They are marked by their dense underfur, which made them a long-time object of commercial hunting.





Cute and furry.



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Pale to dark brown.



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