Are there plenty more fish in the sea? Reports of falling hoki stocks off the West Coast and the near-disappearance of crayfish from the Hauraki Gulf suggest that our ‘best in the world’ fisheries management may not be living up to the hype. Three decades ago, the right to catch and sell fish became a property right, one that has now accumulated in the hands of a few. How has that worked out for people—and for fish?
“The sea has all our dreams,” writes Keri Hulme. For some, those dreams are of strange and wonderful creatures, such as you might find 70 metres below the surface at the Poor Knights Islands. For others, the dreams are of the ocean’s untapped riches: minerals, fossil fuels, sea creatures, energy. Which dreams will prevail in 21st-century Aotearoa?
Rolling a fresh cigarette, Bill Ballantine gives a sardonic laugh as he recalls the headline in the local newspaper when New Zealand’s first marine reserve was opened in 1977—“Nothing to do at Goat Island Bay any more.” He had fought for 12 years to protect five square kilometres of marine habitat on the Northland coast. That protection was finally in place. To Ballantine it was the start of a new era. To the newspaper, voicing community opposition, it was the end of one.
Seabird scientists are creating a fake home for shags on the Noises, an island group off the coast of Auckland, in the hope that the Hauraki Gulf’s rapidly diminishing spotted shag population will be fooled into thinking it’s a great place to start a family.
Swept by the cold seas of the Southern Ocean, New Zealand’s outposts of the Bounty and Antipodes Islands are awash with life.
Ecologist Robert Richmond has been studying reef systems for a lifetime. What has he discovered?
Experience the Hauraki Gulf in VR on your home computer or phone...
Revelations about widespread illegal fishing highlight another failure of free-market policy to protect our environment and common assets.
Experience what most of the inner gulf looks like—a relatively modified environment with poor weed coverage and little fish life.
Barely seven per cent of New Zealand is land. The rest of it, the wet bit, covers four million square kilometres. In 2016, photographer Richard Robinson won a Canon Personal Project Grant that enabled a dozen expeditions into this vast marine prairie, arguably the country’s last great tract of undisturbed wilderness.
The world has lost a great advocate for the marine environment. On Sunday, Bill Ballantine, recognised as the father of marine reserves in this country and a pioneer in global marine conservation, passed away, aged 78.
With the gods Poseidon and Tangaroa in mind, Wallace Chapman talks with marine scientists Dr Rochelle Constantine and Dr Tom Trnski, the musician Don McGlashan and the CEO of Sustainable Coastlines Sam Judd about the oceans which surround us. Among the many issues they traverse is the complex one of how we protect our marine reserves while still sustaining a fishing industry.
The ocean is our playground, storehouse, transport corridor, driver of weather and coastal change. We’ve learned the hard way that it’s possible for us to exhaust its resources and overwhelm its natural processes. Now, scientists are mapping the web of relationships between the sea, the land and human industry, to figure out how fishing, aquaculture, tourism, land development, and recreation affect its health. What should be permitted, and what prohibited—and where? How can we best strike a balance between using and protecting our seas?
The Biblical tale of three magi with gifts has an ecological equivalent at the Three Kings Islands, 53 kilometres north of the New Zealand mainland. There, swept by the cool waters of the Tasman Sea, life springs in profusion. This year, five agencies voyaged to the islands to explore this unfathomable biological wealth.
A thousand kilometres north-east of the mainland, the Kermadec group basks in a subtropical environment and two decades of marine protection. In May this year, scientists scoured this untouched world to catalogue, collect and expand the list of species found there, and discovered an ecosystem unlike anything else in the country.
Why did hundreds of dead kororā—little blue penguins—wash up on beaches around the country two summers ago? Has their fate got anything to do with the weather? Or has it got something to do with us?
The distant and remote Minerva Reefs—the closest coral atolls to New Zealand—have been the subject of political intrigue, a failed libertarian state and a naval showdown. Scientists believe they may also be the origin of some tropical species reaching New Zealand’s northern waters.
An ecosystem out of balance is a desert of monotony. Here at Nordic Reef, snapper and crayfish stocks have been depleted by overfishing, allowing the population kina population to explode and devour all the kelp, sponges and algae.
Marine geologist Cornel de Ronde is filling in the blanks on the map of New Zealand’s submerged territory—and investigating the wealth it may contain.
New Zealand’s Poor Knights Islands is considered one of the world’s top dive sites and for good reason, with a rich collection of extraordinary characters and bizarre behaviors, including a unique congregation of stingrays and sex-changing Sandagers Wrasse.
Built for acceleration and power, the shortfin mako is the fastest shark in the world and an icon of New Zealand seas. Although heavily fished for decades by commercial longliners, mako populations are beginning to recover, and prospects look good for this oceanic speedster.
The chemistry of seawater is changing, becoming more acidic, and this transformation is most profound along our coastlines. In this delicate borderland between land and sea, some places are experiencing a surge in acidity, peaking at levels that the open ocean isn’t predicted to reach until the end of this century. What does this mean for marine life?
Dr Rochelle Constantine recently led an expedition to the Kermadec region to study ocean biodiversity from the deep sea to the surface.
Rachel Constantine is a senior lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, where she focuses her work on the study of cetaceans.
Like New Zealanders, penguins occupy the margin of land and sea, being dependent on both habitats, and vulnerable to changes in either as well. Their fate is wedded to our coasts, and as scientists have begun to understand, they are a perfect indicator of the health of this fragile boundary too. What can penguins tell us about our seas and shores?
Where marine life is protected, it blooms. Northern Arch at the Poor Knights is like a busy city street, attracting swarms of fish and stingrays.
Snapper congregate in the shallows of Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve at an abundance and maturity that may closely reflect the original snapper populations of the Hauraki Gulf. There are three to four times the number of snapper inside the reserve as outside and up to ten times the number of crayfish.
The Kermadec Islands are a staging post for humpback whales heading from the tropics to feeding grounds in Antarctica that remain unknown. Scientists attempted to intercept them, track them, and discover where they go. Rochelle Constantine, director of the Marine Mammal Ecology Group at the University of Auckland describes how to shoot a whale for science.
Alone in the Pacific, halfway to Tonga, sit the Kermadec Islands. This remote archipelago is New Zealand’s northernmost frontier and our toehold on the tropics. Everything that lives on and around these young islands has travelled far to be here and a unique mix of creatures thrive in its warm waters. As a marine community the Kermadec is unrivalled in New Zealand waters.
The underwater habitat at the Kermadecs is unique in the world, supporting fish life not seen anywhere else, and sharks in abundance. Auckland Museum's Head of Natural Sciences, Tom Trnski, tells us why.
The creatures of New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve are safe from humans, but that doesn’t mean life is easy. They are under constant attack from marauding dolphins, diving cormorants, and the sharks and the marlin that live beyond the boundaries of the reserve.
A former editor recalls how he was smitten by deceptively simple creatures.