Course Description

Course Name

Biology and Behaviour of Marine Vertebrates

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Study of the biology, ecology and behaviour of marine vertebrates (fish, marine reptiles, seabirds and marine mammals), focusing on New Zealand species.

Marine vertebrates are some of the most fascinating and sophisticated animals on the planet. In this course we consider the vertebrates that have made their living in the sea; starting with fish, marine reptiles, seabirds, and ending with marine mammals. For each group we will focus first on biodiversity, explore the physiological, ecological and behavioural solutions they have evolved, and discuss the conservation issues they face in the modern world. We will take time to explore the oddities; for example fish that use electrical pulses to navigate, or have parasitic males whose only function is to fertilise females, seasnakes whose venom is as deadly as that of all but the most dangerous land snakes, seabirds that fly underwater, and whales that make the loudest, and most complicated acoustic signals in the animal kingdom.

Learning Outcomes
Students gain an understanding of diversity, form and function in marine vertebrate taxa, physiological and behavioural adaptations to their environment; diversity and ecology of NZ marine vertebrates; and management and conservation issues facing marine vertebrates, both internationally and in NZ. In addition, students improve their skills in problem solving, collaboration and written communication.

*Course content subject to change