Saving the Spotted Shag
What counts as 'conservation' can change over time - just look at the spotted shag. A hundred years ago, shags were shot in the name of science and also to preserve fish stocks, and their numbers continued to decline sharply in the 20th century. Today, Auckland Museum scientists are working in the lab and at sea to establish which species need saving and how best to save them.
Sometimes, that work requires a bit of creative thinking. In the video below, follow Auckland Museum's Curator, Land Vertebrates Matt Rayner as he leads a team of scientists and volunteers to scan, 3D print, paint, and install a troupe of shag models on Otata Island in the Hauraki Gulf, in the hopes that they'll lure passing populations to the island to breed.
A lot of work still to be done
Just a few weeks ago, we went back to Tarahiki Island on a shag-tagging mission that will help our teams monitor recovering populations. More visits were planned for the following weeks so we could catch the shags at the crucial time between hatching and fledgling. Unfortunately, with the Auckland region currently under Level 3 Covid-19 guidelines, this will have to wait.
This short video shows the team heading out to Tarahiki Island on that misty morning expedition to check on a Hauraki Gulf spotted shag population.