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Spotted shags get a helping hand from the Auckland Museum

11 Nov 2019

It may not be widely known or appreciated just how crucial New Zealand’s shag population is, with 13 of the world’s 40 shag species using Aotearoa as a breeding ground.

Unfortunately, the Hauraki Gulf’s spotted shag population has been in significant decline—news made worse by the discovery of how essential they are for maintaining genetic diversity among NZ’s shags.

To combat the problem, Auckland Museum’s dedicated team – led by Dr. Matt Rayner, Curator of Land Vertebrates – have created 3D-printed versions to attract new shags, with carefully selected Resene colours playing an important role in bringing the replicas to life.

Resene Vista Blue, Resene Niagara, Resene Subzero, Resene Whisky Sour, Resene All Black, Resene Regent Grey, Resene Half Chicago, Resene Jumbo, Resene Trojan and Resene Gull Grey were used by the team at Auckland Museum to colour their spotted shag replicas.

“Seabirds like Auckland’s spotted shags are a unique part of the fabric of the Hauraki Gulf, but their future is looking grim. With this campaign, we are hoping to raise awareness of the plight of spotted shags and the need for more marine protection around New Zealand in general,” says Matt.  

To raise awareness, the Auckland Museum team have been busy campaigning for the spotted shag to be crowned Forest & Bird’s 2019 Bird of the Year. Their hope is to educate Kiwis about the spotted shag’s plight and bring attention to how special these birds are.

While the spotted shag may not have been crowned this year’s winner – it was beaten by the Hoiho/Yellow-Eyed Penguin – you can visit Forest & Bird’s website to learn more about what these beautiful creatures are up against and donate to help protect them and other NZ native birds all year round.

Header image: A 3D replica of a spotted shag painted in Resene Vista Blue, Resene Niagara, Resene Subzero, Resene Whisky Sour, Resene All Black, Resene Regent Grey, Resene Half Chicago, Resene Jumbo, Resene Trojan and Resene Gull Grey sits pretty on Otata Island.

images Jennifer Carrol, Matt Rayner