Pre-human New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) rookeries on mainland New Zealand

C Collins, Nicolas Rawlence, Trevor H. Worthy, Richard Scofield, Alan Tennyson, Ian Smith, M Knapp, Jonathan Waters

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Holocene New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri) bones collected from the north of New Zealand's South Island strengthen existing evidence for the former Holocene presence of breeding colonies of P. hookeri on mainland New Zealand. The taxonomic identity of Phocarctos bones is confirmed using both morphology and ancient DNA analysis. Five radiocarbon dates on four adult and one pup bone from Creighton's Cave near Paturau, northwest Nelson, ranged from 1290±30 yr BP to 5430±30 yr BP. Three radiocarbon dates on pup bones spanning 200 14C yr (1550±30 yr BP to 1390±30 yr BP) reveal that a prehistoric breeding rookery was present at Delaware Bay, Nelson, until shortly before the time of human arrival c. AD 1280 (670 yr BP). The Delaware Bay site in particular provides a valuable snapshot of coastal New Zealand faunas shortly before human arrival, one that has potential to enhance our understanding of changes in the endemic coastal fauna associated with human colonisation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of the Royal Society of New Zealand
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2014


    • ancient DNA
    • Creighton's Cave
    • Delaware Bay
    • extinction
    • New Zealand sea lion
    • Phocarctos hookeri
    • Polynesian colonisation


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