With marine piling on the cruise berth project starting soon, we have finalised our Marine Mammal Management Plan (MMMP). This plan sets out how Lyttelton Port Company and the contractor involved will manage potential noise effects on marine mammals, particularly Hector’s Dolphins.
The plan is a result of a collaboration with some of New Zealand's leading marine mammal scientists, marine acousticians and underwater noise modelling specialists.
We've also been fortunate to have input from the Department of Conservation on the plan. Their review and advice has been greatly appreciated.
You can read a copy of the plan here. If you have any questions please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Netting has been put in place at the end of the cruise berth site to ensure seabirds don’t get too close to the construction works.
Following advice from wildlife experts, we have installed fences and netting to discourage the birds from nesting there, as construction in this area will shortly get underway.
We’ve kept watch on the birds, and can see they’ve moved to the adjacent Z-Berth wharf - a much safer area.
As part of our effort to understand the way our projects alter the underwater noise environment, we’ve spent some time on the water measuring noise from the dredging and cruise berth piling projects.
Last Thursday, we joined an acoustician from Styles Group, and an environmental engineer from Boskalis, as we headed out on a survey boat to record noise with four hydrophones, which work like underwater microphones.
We set up the hydrophones at various distances from the dredge, and recorded the sound as the dredge moved along the Harbour, passing the hydrophones. This was done a few times to ensure we had collected the best data possible.
A single hydrophone was also installed about 20-25m off the cruise berth piling to measure the amount of noise the on-land piling may be causing in the water.
The data is now being analysed by Styles Group, and will help us better manage potential effects on Hector’s dolphins in the Harbour.
LPC is thrilled to be working with some of New Zealand’s top experts on marine mammals. We’ve been working closely with scientists and researchers to learn more about marine mammal habitats underwater, and ways we can help protect them.
Dr Deanna Clement, a published researcher with Cawthron Institute, is focusing on the behavioural patterns of Hector’s dolphins, how they use the Harbour, and how they behave around our developmental projects.
Dr Matt Pine, a published marine acoustician, spends much of his time travelling the world investigating effects of underwater noise on a range of marine mammals – from the Yangtze finless porpoise to Hector’s Dolphin.
Dr Pine is helping us with underwater acoustic measurements and is making sense of the massive amount of data the instruments collect.
Darran Humpheson, an underwater acoustic specialist from AECOM, has over 25 years’ experience in predicting underwater noise levels using advanced modelling methods. Darran uses information about the Harbour to predict the level of underwater noise our projects may cause.
This great team of experts are helping us to better understand the potential effects of our projects, and how to ensure our marine mammals are protected. This team is helping us design an underwater acoustic monitoring programme, interpret data, write marine mammal management plans and train contractors in marine mammal observation methods.
When it came to finding the right type of piles, LPC weighed up all of the options. LPC even looked at screw piles which are quieter underwater, but because of the large force cruise ships put on the wharf, screw piles wouldn’t be strong enough.
LPC is using driven tubular steel piles because their strength will make sure a wharf is built that will be able to withstand severe weather when a large cruise ship is at the wharf. LPC also had to make sure the piles would be strong enough to withstand an earthquake.
The redesign has helped in a big way to reduce the impact on marine life. The improvements to the wharf meant that resource consent for construction was no longer required, because the new wharf falls within the regulations of the Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan.
Lyttelton Harbour is home to a colony of the white-flippered variant of kororā (little penguins –Eudyptula minor), which are the smallest species of penguin in the world.
While the little Kororā (often also called little blue penguins) is the most common penguin on New Zealand’s coast-line, the white-flippered variant is thought to be largely confined to Banks Peninsula and North Canterbury, which makes it a bird of special local significance.
Kororā (often also called little blue penguins) feed out at sea during the day. They love to roost and make their make their nests in the nooks and crannies of the port’s rock armouring.
The population of little penguins in New Zealand is declining, so it’s really important to look after the ones we have in the harbour and ensure that our construction projects do not disturb or harm them while they are nesting.
Annabelle Coates (Ecologist, Babbage Consultants) has just helped us inspect habitat at the proposed Cruise Berth site. She found a few likely nesting spots, so special motion sensing cameras were set up to record any night time penguin visits. One camera snapped a single penguin hopping around the rocks, possibly scoping the area for a nesting site.
We didn’t find any evidence that nesting has started, and the penguin wasn’t seen in subsequent night’s recordings. So, to ensure penguins don’t nest in the area during construction, we have filled in the remaining nooks and crannies in the rock armouring.
Once the cruise berth is complete, the area will have new rock armouring with plenty of good nesting burrows for our flippered friends!
Keep an eye out for more in-depth penguin stories in future issues of LPC's Port Update newsletter.