Milford Sound Marine Ecology

As you travel through the fiord on our Milford Sound Scenic Cruises you will view the habitats of some amazing animals and, with a little bit of luck, some of the animals themselves.

The high rainfall experienced in Fiordland and Milford Sound helps to create unique marine environment. In this high rainfall zone, rivers streams, waterfalls and rain falling directly on the fiord meet up with the seawater of the fiord.

The fiords constitute a haven for animals that are dark adapted, slow growing and usually associated with deep water. 

Dolphins

You may see three different species of Dolphin on Milford Sound scenic cruises.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) are the most common dolphin seen. Up to 60 inhabit Milford and Doubtful Sounds and grow up to four metres in length. 

Dusky Dolphin (Lagenorhychus obscurus) grow to about two metres in length are sometimes seen at Milford.

Hectors Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), the world rarest dolphin can be seen off the coast but never venture in the fiords.

Seals

Once hunted to near extinction, The New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) can now be found along most rocky coastlines in southern New Zealand and can usually be seen on Milford Sound scenic cruises. 

Penguins

Visitors on our Milford Sound scenic cruises have also been able to see two species of penguin which inhabit the fiords, the Fiordland Crested Penguin (Eudptyes pachyrhynchus) or Tawaki and the Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor) or Korora. The Fiordland Crested Penguin is only found along the Fiordland coastline and is one of the rarest penguins in the world. 

Sea birds

The fiords are breeding habitats for a range of sea birds, some resident, some migratory, e.g. shags (cormorant), sooty shearwater, oyster catchers and gulls. 

Black coral

(Antipathes fiordensis) is endemic to Fiordland and grows at depths as shallow as 5m, but grows especially well at depths of about 15 metres where it crowds the near vertical walls. It forms colonies that in places resemble small to medium-sized trees. Black coral grows less than 20mm a year so trees over five metres tall are estimated to be over 300 years old. 

About MarineLife

The fiords constitute a haven for animals that are dark adapted, slow growing and usually associated with deep water.