tropical fish from Australia have been spotted in New Zealand waters
after a record-breaking hot summer and warm ocean temperatures lured
the creatures across the Tasman sea.
Queensland groper, also known as the giant grouper, is the aquatic
emblem of the state and was spotted swimming around the wreck of the
HMNZ Canterbury in the Bay of Islands on Sunday, more than 3,000
kilometres away from its usual cruising spots on the coral reefs and
estuaries off the Queensland coast.
Zealand experienced its hottest summer on record this year, largely
propelled by a “marine heatwave” during which sea temperatures
rose as much as six degrees in some areas, and 2-4 in the region
where the groper was spotted.
released by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
found the average temperature during January was 20.3C – more than
three degrees above normal.
Queensland groper, a bony fish that can grow up to three metres long
and weigh 600kg, is a protected species in Australia, was spotted and
recorded by a skipper from Paihia Dive, a small coastal town in the
far north of the country.
fish are known for their curious natures, and often approach divers.
Craig Johnston, owner of Paihia Dive, said it was “very rare” to
see them, and the odds of their survival were slim once sea
temperatures dipped below 18 degrees.
is unusual, I’ve been working in the industry 20 years and there
hasn’t been a season like this before, it’s quite incredible,”
said Australian marine life end up in New Zealand when they “hop
on” the East Auckland current, which begins life as the East
Australian current and runs along the coast before making its way to
New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
water in New Zealand was generally too cold for the fish to breed,
and they would usually die by winter.
of marine life not usually present in New Zealand waters have been
noted around the country this year, including kingfish in Dunedin
Harbour, garden eels in the Kermadec Islands (1,000km north of New
Zealand), sergeant major damselfish, striated frog fish and Lord Howe
Moray in Northland and lion’s mane jellyfish in Wellington Harbour.
heatwave also led to a boom in land-based animals, including an
explosion in the rodent population, which was predicted to increase
10-fold by the spring, due to an abundance in food supply.
it's giant jellyfish or swarms of translucent bead-like
creatures washing ashore, there's been plenty to
pique Wellingtonians' interests at the beach this summer.
week social media lit up with questions about chains of gelatinous
blobs washing up on Petone Beach.
Institute for Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) jellyfish expert Dennis
Gordon said they were not chains of jellyfish eggs, as some thought,
but a peculiar creature called a chain salp.
of those beads can break off and function as an individual, and they
will just bud off more chains," he said.
goes in one end, and is pumped out the other, and there's a stomach
and a tiny little brain."
salps form chains by asexual reproduction and are totally harmless.
same cannot be said for the over-sized jellyfish that have been found
in the bay, with one Petone dog-walker photographing some of the
strange new arrivals.
to Gordon the general size of the jellies in the bay has been much
larger than usual.
chains of salp stirred many beach-goers' interest on Petone Beach
the case of Petone Beach, the jellyfish pictures is of a lions mane,
which can deliver a nasty sting, and is known to grow up to two
metres in waters abroad.
were three main types of jellyfish which appeared in Wellington
Harbour - the lions mane, the spotted (also a stinger) and the moon
moon jelly is the clear, transparent one, about the size of a dinner
plate or smaller. It has four purple crescents in it which you can
see. That one doesn't sting."
jellyfish will usually appear in spring, with numbers booming as
increased sunshine and warmer waters increase the amount of plankton,
which the jellies prey upon. Despite
being frequent visitors, Gordon said the location where the creatures
reproduced was an enduring mystery.
way they reproduce is they put eggs and sperm into the seawater, they
get fertilised, and the little larvae that forms in that
fertilisation drops to the sea floor and there it metamorphoses into
a little sea anemone type thing."
gooseberry were also common in the bay, and to the untrained eye they
looked like thumbnail-sized translucent blobs.
a little closer and you will see eight distinct bands of hair which
turn iridescent in direct sunlight.
have two long tentacles that stick out into the water, they have
sticky cells on them, and that's how they catch their food."
of thousands of tissue-like white flakes in the shallows have also
caused some concern on Oriental Bay, but according to Niwa marine
biologist Wendy Nelson the flakes could be sea lettuce but she would
have to see them to be sure.
for Wellingtonians, none of the local plants or seaweed are poisonous