Merry Christmas from Auckland Council

Merry Christmas from Auckland Council cutting pohutukawas

Merry Christmas from Auckland Council cutting pohutukawas

The six Pohutukawa trees on the corner of St Lukes Rd and Great North Rd (opposite MOTAT) are under threat from Auckland Transport’s plan to create an additional lane for the approach to the new motorway overbridge. These trees are over 80 years old and were originally planted as part of the Chamberlain Park Golf course. How much more land, amenity, natural heritage and pollution needs to be devoted to new roads. Please sign and share this petition to get Auckland Transport to come up with a plan that does not result in these trees being cut down. You can find the campaign to save the Pohutukawa 6 on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/savethepohutukawa6

Whangateau Harbour Important Nursery for Parore

Hundreds of young parore, mostly about a year old, were hovering under the Omaha Causeway Bridge this morning.  They were taking advantage of a calm spot in an eddy as the tide started racing out.

Hundreds of young parore shelter under the Omaha Causeway bridge as the tide begins to drop.  The western row of bridge support columns can be seen in the background.

Hundreds of young parore shelter under the Omaha Causeway Bridge as the tide begins to drop. The western row of bridge support columns can be seen in the background.

According to Mark Morrison from NIWA, who did his MSc thesis on parore, the Whangateau Harbour produces all the parore for the coast from Pakiri to Kawau Bay. There are two sandstone reefs in the Harbour which serve as nursery areas for parore. One is about 200 metres south of the Causeway bridge and can be seen from the bridge when the tide is low. The other is on the Point Wells side of Horseshoe Island and is a popular snorkeling area alongside the channel. Masses of necklace weed grow on the reefs providing a sheltered habitat for the young parore.

In late January hundreds of recently settled parore only 20mm long shelter amongst the branches of mangrove trees when the tide is in. Here they continue to pick plankton organisms from the water, at the same time as beginning their herbivorous life by nipping at micro-algae growing on the mangrove branches.

Juvenile parore only 20mm long sheltering among the branches of large mangrove trees in the southern part of Whangateau Harbour.  The barnacles on the branches at left give you an idea of the scale.

Juvenile parore only 20mm long sheltering among the branches of large mangrove trees in the southern part of Whangateau Harbour. The barnacles on the branches at left give you an idea of the scale.

The tiny parore settle from their planktonic larval stage at about 12mm long and can be found schooling in estuaries and the lower parts of creeks when they are hardly recognizable just developing their stripes.

This tiny parore only 12mm long is just beginning to show its stripes.

This tiny parore only 12mm long is just beginning to show its stripes.

More Aucklanders Visit Marine Reserves Than Go Fishing!

The Auckland Council People’s Panel is a large group of many thousands of the Auckland public interested in providing feedback to Council about various issues which Council has an influence over or interest in.  Frequent questionnaires are published seeking the views of the panelists on a wide variety of topics.  A recent one was on Auckland’s Natural Environment.  Full results of this survey can be seen at  People’s Panel survey – Protecting & Improving Auckland’s Natural
Environment 

Tawharanui Marine Reserve on a quiet day.  Beaches and coasts were of greatest interest to panelists.

Tawharanui Marine Reserve on a quiet day. Beaches and coasts were of greatest interest to panelists.

The following I found fascinating in response to Question 5B, “In the last 12 months have you done any of the following activities in Auckland?”

Visited a beach 92%
Visited a marine reserve in Auckland 39%
Fished in the ocean 24%

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Hundreds of Trevally Shelter in the Shade

Hiding in the shade of the Omaha jetty floating pontoon this afternoon were hundreds of trevally of all sizes. They were accompanied by smaller numbers of parore and mullet, all station-keeping under the pontoon in the outgoing current.

Trevally

The water was beautifully clear about two hours after high tide, as there had been no rain and little wind for several days, the water offshore is really clear at present, and the vast numbers of cockles in the harbour would have finally “polished” the water of any remaining plankton and sediment.

I have seen trevally like this under the pontoon before, but they have usually stayed only a couple of days before moving on. But when they are there they are a lovely sight.

Today I just held my Go Pro camera in the water over the side of the pontoon, but it would be great to snorkel quietly over to the pontoon and take a closer look.

Waiheke Northern Side Marine Reserve

Waiheke

A visionary idea – everyone benefits – let’s make it happen!

A Bumper Year for Kumarahou

It has been a very good year for our local cream-coloured kumarahou.  Found naturally only in the Warkworth-north Rodney area, Pomaderris hamiltoni is a different species from the well-known bright yellow kumarahou common on clay banks and roadsides in other districts.

The cream-coloured flowers of the local Hamilton’s kumarahou are distinctive on clay banks and roadsides at this time of year. This colony is on the Leigh road between Matakana and Whangateau.

The cream-coloured flowers of the local Hamilton’s kumarahou are distinctive on clay banks and roadsides at this time of year. This colony is on the Leigh road between Matakana and Whangateau.

Hamilton’s kumarahou grows taller and thinner than the more widespread species, but likes the same habitat of dry clay banks. There are some lovely displays locally, particularly on the Leigh road on the highest part between Matakana and Whangateau, and on the Sandspit road.

They have a fairly short flowering season so they will be fading fast. When not in flower they are hard to notice and are often at risk of roadside spraying programmes because most people would pass them over as weeds or scrub. But in spring when they flower they become much more obvious.

Hamilton’s kumarahou is a local botanical treasure which we should all recognize and appreciate.

Here is One Answer to Inundation

Some thirty or more years ago a subdivision was approved north of Thames on what was a combination of old mine tailings and a rubbish dump.  Subsequently the unstable land sunk, leaving the residential houses at great risk of inundation by the sea.

The top of the seawall looks about 2.5 metres above the road level.

The top of the seawall looks about 2.5 metres above the road level.

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Am I Alone in Thinking This is Dumb??

A large new house is being built barely 10 metres from the top of an eroding sand cliff north of the Omaha boat ramp and jetty.  Sure there are several older houses nearby which have been there for 20 years or more, but this is a recently permitted new house.

Dumb 1

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Research Shows Northern Crays in BIG Trouble

Talk to any OLD diver (that is any who were diving in the 1960’s) and you will hear stories of crayfish feelers bristling out of every crevice at Tiritiri Island, 7-pound crays at Ponui Island, plenty of crays around Waiheke Island, and giant 20-pound plus packhorse crawling around in the kelp at the Cavalli Islands. What has happened to them? If the Quota Management System is so good at sustaining our fisheries, why aren’t there still lots of big crays out there?

Large crayfish used to be common on our shallow reefs.  What has happened to them?  The short answer is we have both exported and eaten them!

Large crayfish used to be common on our shallow reefs. What has happened to them? The short answer is we have both exported and eaten them!

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Eagleray Feeding Strategy on Reefs

Eaglerays are common in estuaries where they make distinctive “footprints” on the sand when they have been digging feeding holes.  They are also common on rocky reefs where they have a completely different feeding strategy.

EagleRay 1

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