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Native fish surveying
Dr Danielle Shanahan

Native fish surveying

Restoring ZEALANDIA's waterways

ZEALANDIA has a 500-year vision of restoration, and our lakes offer a unique challenge in this respect. They are man-made, and restoring them to the state they were in before the dams went up is not really an option. As a result, we are now aiming to create healthy, functioning lake ecosystems here in the heart of Wellington.

Back in 2011 the ZEALANDIA team in partnership with DOC carried out a mammoth effort to restore our upper lake. This was a huge success, and you can now often catch glimpses of banded kokopu, a native fish, in the streams above the upper lake. One of our next major challenges is restoring the lower lake and the tributaries. It currently has an extremely high population of perch, and this puts the system ‘off balance’—this seems to be one of the major causes of an algal bloom each year.

We are starting to plan and prepare for our lower lake restoration effort. As part of this Amber McEwan of Riverscapes Ltd helped us carry out a native fish survey in January 2018 to discover just what we have to protect. We found an incredible number of banded kokopu, 351 in the area surveyed. Many of these were small juveniles (~5cm in length), but there was also a healthy number of larger individuals. We also spotted two long-finned eel, a short-finned eel.

We were reminded just how special a functioning New Zealand ecosystem can be at night, with hundreds of cave weta living under the bridges, many species of spider, pāteke and kiwi encounters, and the delight of enjoying an area with none of the city noises or lights just 3km from downtown Wellington.

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