February 15, 2019

Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve

My curiousity abut the Poor Knights was triggered when I took @pjd1 down to the G2 a couple of years ago. After putting his head underwater, he popped straight back up and said, "This is amazing! I have not seen this much diversity on mainland New Zealand!"

"Huh?", says me, "this is normal."

"No, this is not normal on the mainland. I have only seen this richness of diversity at the Poor Knights and the Mokohinau."

Since then I have been to a few beaches outside of my rohe, and I started to understand what he meant and came to appreciate home more and more as I saw places that have been stripped of marine life and you have to hunt to find things instead of choosing one area and spending hours lurking there and still not have seen everything there is to see. Now when I visit a beach that is not at home, before I go I say to myself, "This is not home, it will not have the diversity," which helps because I enjoy the places that I have been to.

This year my son and I finally made it to the Poor Knights so I could to see for myself what it is like out there. Naturally the weather was great, the skies blue and only about a 1.5m swell. A Buller's Shearwater escorted us over to the Poor Knights, easily keeping up.

The water was clear with good visibility down at least 10m in most areas so it was easy to see fish and brown alga. Along the rock face (where the island plunges into the sea) the demarkation line between the different tides zones was very noticable - almost like someone had drawn a line and from there down different red alga grew and were not seen above the line. With the swell it was really helpful to be risen up to see that zone, then taken down to see a zone below.

Upon departing we went for a look around some of the other islands. The photo below was taken then, showing two "Hole in the Rocks"

Overall we had a great day, exploring a new place. Alot of other people on this trip were blown away with the thick weeds and lots of fish. For anyone else this would be a spectacularly mind blowing place!

We however can see all of this in our own backyard, the thickness of the browns and at times lots of fish swimming around, coming up close like they did here. We are also interested in all marine life so spent a good hour and a half following along the rock wall for about 100m to see what we could find and the answer was not much. When I do the same thing here I am lucky to do 20m in that time because of the many things I see and stop to photograph. However, that could reflect that this was a completely different ocean enviornment and that is why the diversity in the area we explored was not as great as the diversity at home.

This trip was not disappointing as finally seeing it was worth it, but has strongly re-enforced how amazing home is and has given both of us an even greater appreciation of our own backyard, where we do not have to take a 25km boat ride out to sea, instead, just a short drive then walk and the wonderland is there for the exploring :)

Posted on February 15, 2019 06:06 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 08, 2019

Most of Blue Fleet Welcomes Me Home

Usually when I return home after being away, the first chance I get I'm in the water and usually welcomed by wheke which we all know are common and easily spotted :D

However, the first time I went down to the beach the water was rough, with white caps everywhere and I did not fancy photographing sand particles in good focus with a creature lurking in the background of the photo, so we did a hikoi (walk) along the beach instead.

The tide was on its way out and up in the high tide mark I spotted Janthina - photographing those in strong winds is a mission as those shells are light! *LOL* Then heading towards the water, in the next wash line, were by-the wind sailors and then I saw the blue buttons.

Aha! He tohu tena pea? A sign perhaps? Surely if there were a few blue buttons around then those elusive Sea swallows, Glaucus atlanticus, will be around somewhere. So heading towards the water again, sure enough on the next wash line there they were! Totally stoked to see these again.

Of course, when I first found the Blue Fleet I did not know at that time that there were 2 different species that wash up from the Glaucus whanau, and as this was the first time I had seen them since then, this was the ideal opportunity to take a very good look at them and see if I could spot the two species clearly and sure enough. After lurking and studying and looking closely, the two species are easy to spot, as seen in the photo below :)

Right: Glaucus atlanticus Left: Glaucilla bennettae

I also noticed that the Glaucilla bennettae were all together further down the beach while where the Glaucus atlanticus were, there were also a few of the Glaucilla bennettae. So maybe the Glaucilla bennettae prefer to hang out by themselves.

However, the blue bottle - the most common of the blue fleet was no where to be seen!

Further Reading: Distinguishing Glaucus atlanticus and Glaucilla bennettae is a post I put on the Blue Fleet Monitoring Project.

Posted on February 08, 2019 21:14 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 7 observations | 6 comments | Leave a comment

January 20, 2019

Ngahere and Moana in One Day

Both the ngahere and the moana are special places and at home I have the option of going to either the ngahere or the moana as there are all of the dune habitats that border on the moana.

However, as I am in Tamaki Makau Rau at the moment, on Sat 19 Jan 2019 @pjd1 picked me up and after a great korero and kai at his kainga with his lovely wife and children, he took me and one of his sons' to Kendall Bay, a place that I have not been to before.

Arriving at the place where we parked we went through a ngahere and wow! I could recognise some plants but there were alot of ones I had never seen before and naturally I had a camera with me. After wandering through the ngahere we arrived at the beach, without any of the usual dune habitat that I am used to.

The beach was different from what I am used to habitat wise and diversity wise, but we still found new things to photograph. Once the tide was on its way in, we headed up another track through the ngahere and I had to marvel at how it was possible to visit both the moana and ngahere in one day at one location.

To @pjd1 for all of your time and sharing this special place with me and to Theo our keen spotter, from the bottom of my heart, this was a truly wonderful day!

Below are the 8 life firsts for me - a mix of moana and ngahere :D

Posted on January 20, 2019 07:58 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 8 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 28, 2018

Journey to the Sea Anemone Cave

Last week we found a cave that had a strange sea anemone growing in it (https://inaturalist.nz/observations/15675292) , so I said we would go back and try and get better photos and on Monday that is what we did.

Now this sea cave is right up at Scotts Point, the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach, affectionatly called the Tohe and the only access is along the Tohe. Of course that has always been dependant on the tides but until recently when mother nature decided to close Te Paki there was an escape off ramp about 2kms south. Now the closest on and off ramp is 55kms south which means that if the tides were missjudged there was not a close escape route.

Monday was a .6m low tide but the swells were about 2m. When @indeynz, my trustee side kick, photo assistant and walking mollusca encyclopeadia and I got to the Tohe about 2 1/2 hours before the low, I could see straight away that it was running high, but after reading all of the tohu out there, I decided to go up and see if we could make it.

Make no mistake though, this decision was based on an intimate knowlege of the Tohe, tides and moods and I would not recommend anyone to do this journey in the condition that it was out there without that intimate knowlege.

Now lately when we have headed up there I only have my underwater camera and each time I would see a manu out there I'd say, "Ahhh - I wish I had my good camera!" This time however I did, hence all of the bird photos from this day and some good kekeno / seal photos :)

After getting pass the Bluff - which can be a cut off point - we were totally shocked to see this a bit further up! I have NEVER seen that out there!

We finally arrived at the northern end at about 40mins before the turn and the water was high. Where it is usually exposed there was waves coming in. So after a quick study of the area we decided to see if we could get around to the cave. This involved scrambling over rocks and hugging the cliff so we didn't get splashed by the waves, or worse case senario washed off.

Getting around the point there was water into the cave and at the foot of the cave, a direct result of the turbulant seas that had dumped alot of sand in this area. We surprised a kekeno - fur seal - who was on the rocks on the other side of a small gut and it took off. We then jumped across the gut and walked over the rocks and into the cave.

Once in there we quickly did our photos, mindfull of the time and tides and in fact there was a moment where we had to scramble up the sides as the waves came crashing in.

Getting the photos home and looking at them I see that there are so many other things I did not see at the time so do not have good photos of, so we will plan a serious cave photograhing expedition at a later date, when the swells are not so high!

Posted on August 28, 2018 08:00 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 6 observations | 8 comments | Leave a comment

August 12, 2018

Recycling - Tohe (90 Mile Beach) Style

Sooner or later out on the Tohe a foolish driver who does not know what they are doing will get their vehicle so stuck that's not possible to get it out.

The above photo shows a car stuck after a turn of the tide.

Within 4 tide turns there will be no sign of the car and I have often wondered what happend to it. I knew sooner or later it would be broken down by mother nature but did not realise to what extent recycling went to out here until we came across this yesterday.

Seems the tyre has been recycled and has become a home for goose barnacles, green alga and crabs. Nice to see that some human rubbish in the ocean can help instead of hinder :D

Posted on August 12, 2018 02:53 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 5 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment

July 17, 2018

Bracken - Pteridium esculentum - Revenge Seeker :)

There are so many introduced plants that are invasive and end up crowding out natives and endemics and I have often wondered is there a native or endemic plant that can crowd out the invasive introduced species? Well I finally have an answer and it is YES!!!!!!!!!!

I had an area at my place that had the african daisy and it was spreading rapidly, so I decided when I returned home I would start the labourious task of ripping it out by hand. I have now returned home and have found that aruhe - Bracken - Pteridium esculentum - has taken over a large area where those daisies were growing! I am totally stoked that finally a native is getting revenge on an invasive!

In the photo below you will be able to see what it looked like when in flower

The same area now - you can still see a few of the cape daisy leaves trying to get able the aruhe.

So now I am going to see if I can get the aruhe to grow where the blue corn lily is and maybe it will be able to erradicate that and save me having to hand pull.

Posted on July 17, 2018 03:07 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 1 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

July 13, 2018

How Things Change and a Great Welcome Home :D

On Tuesday night I boarded a plane in Perth, arriving in Auckland at 6 on Wednesday morning. As I had been wandering around a wetland 4 days ago and ended up in a paddock with a bull I decleared my boots as I had stood in a few cow pats. I get into the line for NZ passport holders who had something to declare and I start wondering if I am in the right line because being born and raised in NZ I speak Maori and English yet in this line those languages were not heard, but I could see they had NZ passports ...

When I finally get to the "Biosecurity Screening officer"I explain about my boots and show him the soles. He says, "thats ok" ... what????? I have cow pats on the soles and all the other times I have declared my boots I have to go to the boot cleaning station, but this time I am let through with them as is???? No wonder there are more and more invasive speices being found if the so called "Biosecurity Screening officer" doesn't care. Oh, but he does send me to get my bags screened - nothing found, but never mind the boots - what a sad country this is when there are recent immigrants (his acent gave that away) being a "Biosecurity Screening officer", doesn't bother - probably because of the state his country of origin is - and I know personally as I have been there. Obviously he wants to help screw up our home ggrrrrr......

But when I get out there is a smiling face to greet me - how lovely! One of my nieces I visited in Queensland is home at the mo, and knowing I was coming i,n came to have a catchup with me before I boarded my next flight to Kerikeri so that cheered me up! *LOL*

As I am walking onto the tarmac to get the flight to Kerikeri I can not help but smile non stop - so much closer to home! But when we arrive in Kerikeri I get out the plane, look around then say to the air hostess " is this Kerikeri?" She assures me it is - they had demolished the terminal so no wonder I was confused!

The brother is there to pick my up and off we go on our 3 hour drive to his place, where I pick up my truck and go home. And finally I see my profile photo in real life! Naturally I go and have a look before going home and the tide was soooo low but I resisted the temptation to get down there as I knew I was tired and being tired and in the ocean could be a recipe for disaster.

However, the next day I was off down to the moana and oh what a wonderful greeting for me!

Wheke - octopus - are a common sight for me but this time, as soon as I was in water deep enough for them to be (about 300mm), I saw not 1, not 2, but 3 all in the same pool - about 400 - 600mm apart from each other! Wow! Octopus are not very social and yet here were three all gathered together to welcome me home - so magical!

Then when I got to The Rock - one of my favourite places - I saw a kina species that I had never seen before - totally stoked to see something new on my first outing back into the moana - I am so lucky to live here!

That afternoon also, I finally got down the back of my place and got a photo of an orchid in flower - I had known for about 2 years that it grew there but had not been in the country at the right time to get a photo, so something special from the whenua as well :D

So I am now back home, in a magical wonderland that still reveals amazing things for me to see :D The lines of the song are so true:
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Posted on July 13, 2018 10:23 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 5 observations | 6 comments | Leave a comment

April 11, 2018

Swan River WA - Marine Zone

I always thought that at the mouth of the river where it meets the ocean was where the fresh and salt water mixed and up the river was all fresh, but no. 20kms inland from the mouth of the Swan river it is still salt. Also in this 20km stretch of river is more marine life that what I have seen on the ocean beaches around the Swan river mouth and Perth area.

It is amazing to realise how diverse the marine life is in a river and that there is a marine zone that stretches up into the river. After about 25 - 30kms it does change to a fresh water zone and the water is muddy with zero visability.

So now I have some places to beach comb and play, without having to contend with pounding surf and hardly any beach drift.

Posted on April 11, 2018 03:01 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 8 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 26, 2018

Exploring a "Tropical Aquarium"

The Indian Ocean on the West Coast of Australia has a current that brings tropical fish down and being in the water here is like being in a tropical aquarium and we explored it at Yallingup, a three hour trip south of Perth.

From fish so green that to see them against the green plants is a fluke, to the fish that look like angel fish and a whole lot of others that were swimming around. The variety in one place is more than I have seen anywhere else.

Naturally I do not know what any of the fish are so started with "fish" but because of the wonderful Australasian Fishes Project, I dropped all of the fishy obs into that and got IDs for alot of them :D

I have selected a few of the different varieties that we saw to show the diversity that is in this one place.

Posted on March 26, 2018 07:38 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 8 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 17, 2018

Feeding the Whai (Stingrays) at Hamlin Bay, WA

Hamlin Bay is about a 4 hour drive from Perth, and @pipi_kiwi and I headed down to see the whai close up and to give them a feed.

There are 2 main species that lurk around the old jetty, hoping that someone will come along with fish. We were the only ones there that had bought fish for the whai. Seeing these magnificent creatures up close was truly amazing. They also come in quite fast and if they do not break fast enough you can nearly get pushed over - as I found out! *LOL* They also seem to like my dive boots that I was wearing as they kept on heading to them, giving me a nudge, then pipi_kiwi would give them a kai.

The Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) are opportunistic, swimming around then seeing if they can beat the whai to the fish.

All in all a great time!

Posted on February 17, 2018 06:52 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 6 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment