Explore my mahi (work) reported in the media

Dunedin beaches have been ranked the safest in New Zealand for coastal wildlife. Forest & Bird conducted an investigation into regulations and enforcement of vehicle use on beaches across 52 councils after repeated incidences of wildlife death.

Never mind the cruise ships, Dunedin was treated to a different type of sea-faring visitor yesterday. At least one orca was spotted swimming in parts of Otago Harbour. Marine mammal researcher Giverny Forbes said she spotted a male orca at about 11am, just inland from Weller’s Rock.

Some of Dunedin’s newest residents are on the move and they are considered quite vulnerable. About 20 New Zealand sea lion pups between the ages of 4 and 6 weeks old could at present be on any Dunedin beach - from Ocean View in the south to Warrington in the north - Department of Conservation and Dunedin City Council summer ranger Giverny Forbes said.

the move

5 February, 2024; Otago Daily Times

Otago Harbour

21 December 2023; Otago Daily Times

20 December 2023; Otago Daily Times

4 November 2021; Inside Government NZ

A rare, royal visit

17 November 2022; Otago Daily Times

Leopard seal sighting season - if that is indeed a thing - has begun. While very little is known about leopard seals, there seemed to be a spike in sightings in August, September, and October, Leopardseals.org research assistant Giverny Forbes, of Dunedin, said. For the second time in eight days, Miss Forbes was at Oamaru Harbour yesterday to observe a 2m young adult male leopard seal resting beside Normanby wharf

A vagrant seal many miles from home was spotted on a beach near Dunedin yesterday, in her species' first visit to Otago shores in recorded history. Crabeater seals are usually found on pack ice around the Antarctic, but a 2m-long female in apparently good health was found resting on a beach near Dunedin yesterday, which the Otago Daily Times has chosen not to identify. University of Otago student and LeopardSeals.org research assistant Giverny Forbes said she knew as soon as she saw the seal's distinctive snout it was a crabeater, and not a leopard seal, which has a head shaped like a rugby ball.

On Friday, a sunfish drew plenty of attention at Dowling Bay, Port Chalmers where residents inspected the unexpected visitor. The deep sea fish was first spotted by locals who thought it was a shark so they called in the experts. "I saw what I thought was a funny rock - it turned out to be a sunfish," wildlife responder Giverny Forbes told Newshub.

A young adult leopard seal resting on Warrington Beach yesterday morning made for a special sighting for a Dunedin researcher. It was not only the first leopard seal sighting of the year for University of Otago master’s student Giverny Forbes, the leopard seal was the 50th one she had come across.

Leopard seals resting on the beaches of Dunedin need to be respected, but there is no need to be scared of them, an expert says. Leopard seal researcher Giverny Forbes, of Dunedin, said she was aware of four recent sightings of the Antarctic creatures, three of them around Otago Peninsula.

A leopard seal that visited Petone Beach in Wellington today has now left to seek new shores. The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the seal was last seen heading towards Somes Island. Biodiversity ranger, David Moss, said the young adult seal was in good condition and appeared to be resting up after a rough couple of days off the South Coast.

A king penguin, likely from a large colony on Tasmanian State Reserve Macquarie Island, visited the beach at Fortrose Spit, in Southland. Department of Conservation Murihiku operations manager John McCarroll said king penguins were fairly rare visitors to mainland New Zealand, but were probably annual visitors to New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. The birds most likely came up from the large colony on Macquarie Island.

A juvenile leopard seal has been shot and killed near the mouth of the Oreti River, sparking an investigation to find the perpetrator. The Department of Conservation [Doc] is appealing for the public’s help after the dead seal was found near Sandy Point, in Southland, on July 23. University of Otago researcher Giverny Forbes said it was not uncommon to see leopard seals on the Southland coastlines around this time of year, and the mouth of the Oreti River was not an unusual location for one to visit.

Bright light, loud noise and even a garden hose could be used to try and keep a curious leopard seal away from Auckland's marinas. The leopard seal named Owha is no stranger to the Waitematā Harbour, having made the waters around Auckland and Northland her home since 2015. Otago University masters student Giverny Forbes said photos and sightings have allowed researchers to piece together Owha's behaviour and habits.

Dunedin beach

28 October 2022; Newshub

snack of Auckland dinghies

15 August 2019; Radio New Zealand

Zealand on the rise

19 January 2019; Otago Daily Times

50 leopard seal sightings

9 June 2022; Otago Daily Times


11 October 2022; Otago Daily Times.

leopard seal killer

5 August 2022; Otago Daily Times

visit to harbour

8 August 2018; Otago Daily Times

draws onlookers

28 September 2022; Radio New Zealand

The University of Otago is continuing its success at national and international Three Minute Thesis competitions. Two of the University’s competitors picked up the People’s Choice award at the 2021 Matariki Network of Universities 3MT competition and a Highly Commended award at the National Universities 3MT Masters Competition. ...master’s student Giverny Forbes (Zoology) received the Highly Commended award at the National Universities 3MT Masters Competition at Waikato University recently. Her research is investigating the perceived impacts of human-leopard seal cohabitation in New Zealand and the goal is to support the wellbeing of both.

3 July 2019; Otago Daily Times

misrepresented leopard seals

12 December, 2022; Otago Bulletin Board

Educating the public about leopard seals, which have generally been misrepresented as aggressive, has been a central focus of University of Otago Master of Science graduand Giverny Forbes. Forbes, who is graduating with a master’s in environmental science, studied leopard seals living in urban areas – a phenomenon only starting to happen in New Zealand, where people do not really live with too much wildlife other than birds.

seals the deal

20 June 2019; Otago Bulletin Board

Leopard seals are generally associated with Antarctica and rank as one of the icy continent's top predators. So when Owha the leopard seal decided that Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour and marina were a great place to set up home in 2015, it naturally caused quite a stir. Giverny Forbes' first interaction with Owha the following year at the marina was during her undergraduate studies at Unitec when volunteering with the Department of Conservation (DoC).

Leopard seals are supposed to be rarely seen in New Zealand waters. But already this year eight sightings have been recorded on Otago’s coast, including two of a 2m female leopard seal on Thursday at All Day Bay and later at Waikouaiti, on the coast between Oamaru and Dunedin, LeopardSeals.org research assistant Giverny Forbes, of Dunedin, said this week.

30 August 2018; Otago Daily Times

It could have been the blood of prey, or it could have been blood caused by prey. But when the 2m young adult male leopard seal that has now visited Oamaru Harbour four times this month hauled out for a rest near Normanby Wharf, a ring of blood circled its mouth and some appeared to be dripping from its nostril. LeopardSeals.org research assistant Giverny Forbes, of Dunedin, said ''from photos it's near impossible to tell''.

A Leopard seal pup which spent its short life on a Dunedin beach last year has a found its final resting place at the Otago Museum. The pup was born in the shallows at St Kilda Beach last September. It was the first leopard seal pup known to have been born on the New Zealand mainland since the 1970s. University of Otago zoology student and leopardseals.org research assistant Giverny Forbes said the death had a huge silver lining.

An antarctic leopard seal has taken up residence at Auckland's Ōrākei boat club. Giverny Forbes of leopardseals.org setup a 20m protective area around Owha after members of the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland reported her presence. Forbes said Owha had mainly been seen around Westhaven in Auckland, and Northland in the past.

north Auckland beach

28 December 2017; Stuff

A leopard seal named Novy was spied at a beach in north Auckland on Wednesday, and needed protecting from marauding children with a frisbee. Novy was "hauled up" on a shore near Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa, when beachgoers alerted the Department of Conservation, said leopard seal research assistant Giverny Forbes.

of alleged leopard seal 'prod'

1 November 2017; The Northern Advocate

It's been nearly a week since Hatea the leopard seal has been spotted in Whangarei and the business owner accused of attacking the marine mammal is still waiting to see if he will be prosecuted. Ms Forbes said so far LeopardSeals.org had collected some witness statements, photos and video to give to the Department of Conservation, but she wants to gather any additional evidence. She said any intervention by people could have unforeseen consequences on the animal's behaviour.

Town Basin

25 October 2017; The Northern Advocate

A young male leopard seal making itself at home in Whangarei's Town Basin has been spotted eating ducks. Early yesterday the seal, nicknamed Hatea, flopped on to B dock near the Riverside Drive side of the Town Basin marina, stopping people on their boats from getting ashore. Leopard seal research assistant Giverny Forbes said the seal had left B dock about 11.30am and was spotted nearby eating ducks. She said it was normal for seals to eat birds, including penguins.


25 July 2018; Otago Daily Times