Meet the toitoi
In mid-April we are welcoming a new ika/fish species, the toitoi/common bully (Gobiomorphus cotidianus) to Zealandia to Roto Māhanga their new home. Toitoi are a common species across Aotearoa New Zealand but have been completely lost to this landscape.
By bringing in toitoi we are working towards whole ecosystem restoration. Each species within an ecosystem plays an important role and makes it a richer, healthier and more resilient place. Toitoi are a significant addition for us to introduce to Roto Māhanga/upper reservoir because of their relationship with kākahi, the freshwater mussel. Kākahi use toitoi as ‘public transport’, shuttling their kids off to a different part of their freshwater home. Adult kākahi ‘sneeze’ their larvae (glochidia) into the water, which then attach onto the gills or fins of a nearby fish (preferably toitoi) to catch a ride away from their parents. Along the way, toitoi provide the right environment, signals and conditions for glochidia to undergo metamorphosis into juvenile kākahi. Research into this behaviour has shown that very few glochidia transform into juvenile kākahi when attached to non-native fish species and native species such as the toitoi show the highest rate of glochidia transformation, which makes them a key species to have in this environment.
The fish are coming from Kōhangapiripiri in the Parangarahu Lakes, where previous kākahi/freshwater mussel populations have been sourced from. These lakes are cared for by Rōpū Tiaki which is a co-governance group consisting of Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and mana whenua, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika - Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST), who we are working closely with.
An important part of our biosecurity process involves keeping the fish in a quarantine tank before they are released into the water, and so we have converted the Boat Shed into Zealandia’s very own toitoi quarantine centre! This gives us the rare chance to share these normally secretive fish with our visitors – and we are putting on special member talks to give you the inside scoop on what goes on behind the scenes for a translocation and what mahi/work we are doing around freshwater at Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne.
Come meet the toitoi!
We have converted the Boat Shed into Zealandia’s very own toitoi quarantine centre. This gives us the rare chance to share these normally secretive fish. We’ll be opening the Boat Shed up to visitors to give you the opportunity to see these fish up close and learn a bit more about them.
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Photo credit: Alton Perrie