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Whitebait saved by local heroes and social media

Published: 30 January 2018

Several proactive Aucklanders have teamed up to ensure our city’s declining whitebait population endures and procreates in Paturoa Stream.

Reaching out through social media

The venture started when Auckland resident and enthusiast Ruby Moore took to Facebook after seeing juvenile īnanga (whitebait) struggle to reach their adult habitat in the stream. The response couldn’t have been better.

The video on Ruby’s profile showed the native fish trying but failing to drive themselves over a low weir that extends the full width of the stream. With footage of their tails flailing in the water and several of their bodies pressed against the weir, the message was clear: this school needed help, and soon.

Thanks to the many shares and comments, it didn’t take long before the video reached Shane Wright of Fish Passage Solutions, who pledged to retrofit the weir with a fish ladder.

A timely intervention

Auckland Council’s biodiversity team then stepped in with a unique design that Shane used to build the fish ladder and install it in time to help the last of the whitebait run over the weir.

“It is a timely intervention for these stragglers,” says regional advisor Matt Bloxham, "because the stream’s lower reaches become ever less hospitable and oxygenated as the summer draws on."

“While there is normally greater benefit in removing redundant weirs outright, which is what Auckland Council is doing across the region, there is certain advantage from retaining and retrofitting a ladder to the Paturoa weir."

The recently discovered giant kōkopu – another whitebait species now rare in the Auckland region – are a surprising scaly addition to the īnanga success story and will also benefit from the Paturoa intervention.

Read more: Environment Waitākere

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