Invertebrates in Marlborough

Share this

Invertebrates are a diverse range of animals that include all animals except for fish, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.Invertebrates are estimated to represent at least 97 percent of all animal species globally, with potentially an even higher percentage in New Zealand, where terrestrial vertebrates are limited to birds, a handful of reptiles, a few amphibians, and two bat species. Observations on the citizen science platform, iNaturalist NZ record nearly 5,000 different invertebrates in New Zealand, with around 700 species observed in Marlborough alone.Many species of invertebrates are found throughout Marlborough including introduced pest species such as wasps, cockroaches, and garden snails, while there are some unique endemic species found nowhere else in the world such as the endangered Mat Daisy Jumper (Kiwaia), found only along a section of Rarangi beach. The endangered katipō spider is found along Marlborough's east coast.

In addition to living invertebrates, a number of fossils can be found in parts of Marborough, particularly where marine sediment has been uplifted.

Invertebrates can be found in all habitats including marine and freshwater environments, to alpine areas, with many well adapted to human environments.

Various invertebrates are an important part of Marlborough's economy, with kuku or Greenshell Mussels (Perna canaliculus), an iconic species farmed in the Marlborough Sounds, while pāua and kōura (rock lobster) are important species harvested along the eastern coastline of Marlborough south to Kaikōura. Giant squid off Marlborough's coast are another important invertebrate although rarely seen, as they provide food for sperm whales which have become a popular tourist attraction. Bees are important both for honey production and pollination.

Major Invertebrate Groups

  • Insects
  • Arachnids (spiders, harvestmen)
  • Crustaceans (shrimp, crayfish, crabs)
  • Molluscs (slugs, snails, shellfish)
  • Worms
  • Sponges and coral
  • Millipedes and centipedes

Backobourkia brouni

Backobourkia brouni is a large orbweaver spider native to New Zealand and Australia.

Spirobranchus cariniferus

Blue Tube Worm (Spirobranchus cariniferus)

Blue Tube Worm (Spirobranchus cariniferus) or toke pā to Māori are a marine polychaete worm endemic to New Zealand.

Anachloris subochraria


Insects are the largest group of animal species in the world, with many species endemic to New Zealand, including a number found only in Marlborough.

Pāpaka, New Zealand Paddle Crab (Ovalipes catharus)

Ovalipes catharus

A moderate sized swimming crab found around New Zealand's coastline in areas of sandy beaches.