Spotted shag is the party leader species representing all of the unique shag species in Aotearoa. These deep divers eat small fish and marine invertebrates with the longest dive recorded at 70 seconds. Fishermen use to regarded the shag as competitors, leading to shags being commonly hunted. Now however since 1931, shooting them is now banned and the numbers are recovering and seen mainly on the coastlines of the South Island.
Nationally spotted shags are not threatened with extinction but in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf things are different. The Hauraki Gulf spotted shag is genetically distinct from all others further south and is highly endangered. With just 900 or so restricted to one main colony, this bird’s future is uncertain.