Herding seals from the sky
Authorities have released a video of trained handlers and helicopter crews herding seals out of harm’s way as crews clear landslips north of Kaikoura.
The slip around the Ohau Point sanctuary is one of the most challenging landslides caused by the November earthquake. It stretches more than half a kilometre around the fur seal spot.
Crews kept the seal colony safe by ‘‘carefully moving pups and adult seals out of the construction site’’, New Zealand Transport Agency earthquake recovery manager Steve Mutton said.
Department of Conservation northern South Island director of operations Ron Grose earlier said hundreds of seals sunbathing on the rocks and fresh tarseal had been ushered away from construction crews using a helicopter’s rotor wash.
The mammals had adapted well to the new environment and to the roadworks. Despite being relatively easy to move, some returned and had to be ushered away several times a day, he said.
Workers moved more than 100,000 cubic metres of debris before installing steel mesh on top of Ohau’s northern face, Mutton said.
The mesh, which would be installed by the end of the month, would allow crews to clear the rockfall underneath and start constructing a new 2.5km seawall and road on the northern side of the slip.