Whangateau Harbour Important Nursery for Parore

Hundreds of young parore, mostly about a year old, were hovering under the Omaha Causeway Bridge this morning.  They were taking advantage of a calm spot in an eddy as the tide started racing out.

Hundreds of young parore shelter under the Omaha Causeway bridge as the tide begins to drop.  The western row of bridge support columns can be seen in the background.

Hundreds of young parore shelter under the Omaha Causeway Bridge as the tide begins to drop. The western row of bridge support columns can be seen in the background.

According to Mark Morrison from NIWA, who did his MSc thesis on parore, the Whangateau Harbour produces all the parore for the coast from Pakiri to Kawau Bay. There are two sandstone reefs in the Harbour which serve as nursery areas for parore. One is about 200 metres south of the Causeway bridge and can be seen from the bridge when the tide is low. The other is on the Point Wells side of Horseshoe Island and is a popular snorkeling area alongside the channel. Masses of necklace weed grow on the reefs providing a sheltered habitat for the young parore.

In late January hundreds of recently settled parore only 20mm long shelter amongst the branches of mangrove trees when the tide is in. Here they continue to pick plankton organisms from the water, at the same time as beginning their herbivorous life by nipping at micro-algae growing on the mangrove branches.

Juvenile parore only 20mm long sheltering among the branches of large mangrove trees in the southern part of Whangateau Harbour.  The barnacles on the branches at left give you an idea of the scale.

Juvenile parore only 20mm long sheltering among the branches of large mangrove trees in the southern part of Whangateau Harbour. The barnacles on the branches at left give you an idea of the scale.

The tiny parore settle from their planktonic larval stage at about 12mm long and can be found schooling in estuaries and the lower parts of creeks when they are hardly recognizable just developing their stripes.

This tiny parore only 12mm long is just beginning to show its stripes.

This tiny parore only 12mm long is just beginning to show its stripes.

Kahawai school at Horseshoe Island channel

A school of several hundred young kahawai was seen in the channel behind Horseshoe Island on Saturday.  This was the largest number of kahawai I have seen in this area, and is a very encouraging sign.  There were also large numbers of adult parore, and the usual school of around 200 trevally which have grown since last summer.  There were no juvenile snapper, however, which were common in the summer but have departed for winter.

With 8 to 10 metres visibility, this is the clearest I have seen the harbour waters since the big cockle die-off in 2009.  There had been no rain or wind for several days, however, and the water on the coast is very clear at the moment too, which all helps the harbour’s water clarity.

Part of a school of hundreds of young kahawai in the channel behind Horseshoe Island on Saturday.