T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Skink (Cobble skink)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Oligosoma
Species: Unnamed
Common name: Cobble skink.

Cobble skink is a small (6.5 cm long excluding the tail) species endemic to New Zealand and was found only on a single small stretch of stony beach in northern Westland, just north of the Grey River at Granity, on the the South Island of New Zealand. They inhabited the ‘cobbles’ (beach stones) just above the high-tide mark, at the point where the native groundcover pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia complexa) meets the beach.

The species were first found in 2007. In late 2015 it was assessed in the NZ Threat Classification System as Nationally Critical on the basis that it occupied less than 1 ha of habitat. Their numbers had undergone a severe observed decline. In early 2016, the population was estimated to be 30–40 individuals and on the brink of extinction. The species habitat was rapidly disintegrating due to coastal erosion, thought to be caused by rising sea levels due to climate change. A January 2016 Niwa report to the West Coast Regional Council stated that the section of coast at Granity where the skinks population existed was retreating at a rate of 60-80cm per year. Historically the skinks would migrate inland but that area behind the beach is now covered in houses and lawns. Introduced mammals like rats and cats also reduced their numbers.
In 2016 a decision was made by New Zealand Department of Conservation and the entire global population of 38 was captured and taken to Auckland Zoo until they could be returned to a suitable coastal habitat.

A Radio New Zealand audio on the Cobble Slink

Two cobble skinks in their natural habitat at Granity before it eroded away.

Photographed at the Auckland Zoo

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/