Seals are likely to have been killed but it isn't yet clear if the popular Ohau Point seal colony has been destroyed by the Kaikoura earthquake.
The Department of Conservation says there has been a large slip at the point, north of the town, and photos indicate landslips are likely to have killed some seals.
However, it hasn't yet had time to confirm whether a slip has buried the waterfront area and waterfall on the landward side of State Highway 1, where seals gathered.
The department was initially concentrating helping Civil Defence with the recovery effort and ensuring its structures and tracks are safe, says manager of marine species and threats Ian Angus.
"It is clear from reports that the recent earthquakes have impacted upon wildlife, including seals, penguins and seabirds.
"Some seals will likely have been out at sea foraging and so may not have been impacted. There are still places north and south of Ohau Point where seals can haul themselves out to rest."
Mr Angus said Hutton's shearwater, blue penguins and other species may have been hit by landslips.
However, it could be several weeks before it was deemed safe enough for researchers to visit seal or seabird colonies to check on them, he said.