French Pass, D'Urville Island Wildlife report.

French Pass, D'Urville Island Wildlife report.

Change of Season 2013

Once again we move into our winter season which will see Dusky Dolphins and stunning work ups as seabirds make the most of dolphins bringing bait fish into diving range.

NZ Fur seal are moving around to different haul out areas and will do their best to disrupt and play with bait balls while the dolphins feed.

We have been having some magic evening sky's and sunsets, it is a joy to hear the sound of Weka and Little Blue Penguins as they call in the evenings.

For new videos go to 'French Pass' Youtube channel, enjoy. 


December 2012.

A report highlighting marine mammals can be found on the news page. We have had a large number of spotted shag feeding with foraging dolphins. Flesh footed shearwater and Sooty shearwater are around on their seasonal migration. Little blue penguin are seen frequently in the French Pass along with many shag species. Gannets, terns and gulls.

We had a humpback whale and her calf navigate French Pass and a pod of over 20 Pilot Whale. Spy hopping was common with the Pilot whales and they had several very small calf. Our white common dolphin seems to have moved off but we are still getting a lot of pods foraging.

Weka have new chicks and there is a migration of fish species including kingfish and snapper. 

January 2012 NZ Fur Seal pups have hauled out on nearby shores and Islands. Australasian gannets are feeding in French Pass, the Current Basin and Admiralty Bay taking food back to their chicks on Separation Point. A regular pod of Bottle-nose Dolphins are regularly visiting the area. Our King shag chick has left the nest and another is sitting on one egg on a nearby island (very late for the King Shag). Snapper and king fish are present. To see fish life, including conger eel and octopus, beneath the waters of French Pass go to our links page and click on the appropriate link. Links also for Orca, NZ Fur Seal and other wildlife.

December 2011 As I update this column Bottle-nose dolphins are playing in the bay. We have a small pod who have become regular visitors staying and playing for hours. What a privilege. Bottle-nose dolphins are more consistent in their visits throughout the summer months.

Dusky and common dolphins have been regular visitors throughout winter and right up until December.

Two King Shag chicks have hatched on Te Kuru Kuru, a little island just off French Pass. NZ Fur seal are hauling out for the new season and young Spotted, Pied and Little Shags have left the nest.

A large pod of orca spent the day in Admiralty Bay where they were filmed herding up a pod of Bottlenose dolphin see the following link

 A New Year (January 2011) The lead up to the new year saw reports of orca, humpback whales, dusky, common and bottlenose dolphin. Seabirds including the Little Blue Penguin have been hit and suffered losses caused by the seasonal weather. Bottlenose dolphins can regularly be seen and NZ Fur Seal pups are hauling out on the coast. Arctic Skua are now present chasing down White Fronted Tern for an easy meal of regurgitated fish. Watch for the dogfights in the sky.   

Orca and whales (October 2010) October brings Orca to forage around the local bays. Right on cue a family pod of orca have been foraging in Admiralty Bay.This month there has also been sightings of Dusky and Bottlenose Dolphins who tend to make themselves scarce when the big boys come to town. There has also been another Southern Right Whale seen, this time in admiralty bay. Our shags are nesting and fur seal pups stating to haul out on nearby islands.

Spring change (September 2010) We have had a visit from a southern Right whale. Spotted shags have been flying NE in large flocks and are now nest building and breeding on the outer islands throughout the sounds.King Shag are still breeding.

Dusky dolphins have been present bait balling with small pods of common dolphin. In extreme weather we are seeing Giant Petrels and Mollymawks in Admiralty Bay.

Tui, Bellbird, Weka, Silver eye, NZ Falcon are all present in the bay with visits from Pukeko and Paradise Duck.

Winter change (June 2010) Dusky Dolphins are regular visitors with bottlenose dolphin sightings dropping off. Spotted shag are in full breading plumage and king shags in nesting mode. Pied shags have just finished another breeding cycle. Northern d'Urville has good birding with mollymawks, cape pigeon, white chinned and western petrel along with diving petrels and other sea birds.

On land NZ falcon are still regularly seen along with wood pigeon,  weka, and silver eye. The call of little blue penguins can be heard most evenings and the birds are regularly seen on the water.

Marine Life (March 2010) Last month saw Bottlenose Dolphins & Dusky Dolphins, Pilot Whales, Penguins, Arctic Skuas and Falcons  as regular visitors to French Pass. High tides and full moons have set this month in motion with Little blue Penguins in moult.

Common Dolphin (19 January 2010) A family pod of common dolphin swum with guests of French Pass Sea Safaris today. Common dolphin are seen more throughout the summer months.

Little Blue Penguin A little Blue Penguin found ashore at Elmslie Bay, French Pass is being rehabilitated.

Orca (12 January 10) A few days ago over 15 orca spent the morning surfing the waves of French Pass, Te Aumiti before heading up the coast & foraging in Admiralty Bay. A pod visited French Pass wharf in the afternoon to the delight of visitors.

Dolphins: Bottlenose dolphins have been regular visitors but gave the orca a wide berth. Orca have been photographed predating on common dolphin in the area. There is no record of orca harming man.

Arctic Skua: Skua are present chasing our little white-fronted tern, forcing them to regurgitate the fish just caught, in order to get an easy meal.

A pilot whale has been sighted. It is thought this may be one from the pod that went aground at Farewell Spit.

Fairy Prion & other Seabirds; (12 December 09) Unsettled weather and strong winds have bought ocean going seabirds including the Giant Petrel and Fairy Prion within easy viewing of French Pass. Small pods of Dusky Dolphin are still working in the area. Common Dolphin and Bottlenose dolphin have been present. Early November saw large flocks of Red Billed Gull feeding in the French Pass. Present are Australasian Gannet, Gulls, Fluttering Shearwater, Little Blue Penguin, Sooty and Flesh-footed Shearwater as well as four shag species including the very rare King Shag.

A colder than normal period has seen a latter arrival of Kingfish and snapper. 

Seals & Seabirds; (9th November 09) NZ fur seal pups are hauling out on local rocky shores. Blue penguin are working the waterways along with seasonal sooty shearwaters & flesh-footed shearwaters.

Dolphins; (9th November 09) Yesterday Dusky dolphins were bait balling in the current basin as the sun set. Today a large pod of Bottlenose dolphins visited French Pass to the delight of visitors.

Dusky Dolphins; (30th September 09) Several pods of Dusky dolphins put on a good display of feeding with Australasian Gannets, Fleshfooted Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater and other seabirds before a pod of orca came through the pass.

Pod of Orca: (30th September 09) A pod of approx 11 orca moved NE through French Pass. Several bulls and a mixed pod of females, juvinils and calves.

NZ Falcon; ( 23rd September 09) NZ Falcon can be heard and seen most days above French Pass. 

Pied Stilts; (7th September 09) Spring brings all types of new visitors. This week we had a pair of Pied Stilts making a stop over.

Southern Right Whale; A Southern Right has been seen in the area.

Bottlenose Dolphins; (September 2009) are regularly transiting French Pass in medium size pods. Great acrobatic displays. 

White Dolphin; (August 2009) gave sighting to a white Bottlenose Dolphin in the Marlborough Sounds.

Pied Shag; continue to get caught by fishing gear including nylon lines and set nets. Caution needs to be taken if you are fishing in the area.

New Zealand Fur Seal; this season has seen different patterns emerge on the haulout areas with seal pup numbers being low in some areas. Coming into February has seen more consistency. 

Dolphins; A pod of four Bottlenose Dolphins have been making regular appearances in the bay. Campers and visitors have delighted in kayaking and swimming with them.

Dusky dolphins have been few in number through the summer but will start more regular visits from April.

Orca; French Pass & d'Urville Island have been visited by several family pods of Orca. Regular visits occured from Christmas day to the end of January. Orca feed on shark and stingray and spend up to a week in Admiralty Bay. There have been several sightings of orca giving birth in the surrounding waters. If you are a visitor send your sightings with photos to

Seabirds; Gannets are now feeding in the upwellings and currents of the French Pass Passage.  Diving at speeds of up to 145km these magnificent birds are regularly seen gracing the airwaves. Fluttering shearwaters are in good numbers.

White fronted terns are being chased by Arctic Skuas in dogfights in the sky. The Skuas looking for an easy meal by forcing the terns to drop their fish.

King shag one of the rarest seabirds in the world can be regularly seen fishing the local waterways. The young juvenil birds can be seen with a parent shag.

Reef heron can regularly be seen along the islands shores. Spotted shag, oyster catcher, along with little blue penguin are all working the waterways for food. Young penguins are getting their sea wings and can regularly be seen in the French Pass waterway.

There are occassional sightings of Flesh footed Shearwater.

 Pied Shag are still being caught by fisherman and dying.

Birds; The New Zealand Falcon is common to Elmslie Bay, French Pass. Three are regularly seen.
Tui, Pigeon, bellbird, and weka are regularly seen in the French Pass Village.

Dolphins; bottlenose are regularly passing through working back and forth through French Pass. A pod of four bottlenose visit the bay at intervals are are joined by holiday makers for a swim.

Orca; several pods of orca have been across Elmslie Bay after foraging in Admiralty Bay. Two lots of family groups have spent considerable time in the area. Our first sighting was Christmas Day.

Seals; young pups are now moving further out to the outer islands. Swimming with these young seals is a delight.