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Wellington’s marine reserve on home straight

_31 July 2008 – Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Wellington’s marine reserve on home straight

Wellington’s south coast marine reserve comes a step closer today (July 31) with its formal announcement. Taputeranga Marine Reserve will be opened officially on September 7, 17 years after Forest & Bird started campaigning for it.

“Having Taputeranga Marine Reserve on Wellington’s doorstep will be a huge bonus,” Forest & Bird General Manager Mike Britton says. “With other marine reserves, as people have seen the growth of fish numbers and other marine life inside and outside the reserve, even opponents have become supporters.”

The reserve stretches along the south coast from Owhiro Bay Quarry gates in the west to Te Raekaihau point in the east, and includes Owhiro Bay, Island Bay and Houghton Bay. The 840-hectare area extends 2.3 kilometres out to sea to about 40m water depth, well beyond Taputeranga Island in Island Bay. It is shaped by three ocean currents and bears the brunt of southern ocean swells.

More than 180 fish species have been recorded in the area, and it is home to many varieties of shellfish, crayfish, crabs, starfish and smaller animals. About 400 types of seaweed flourish and seabirds such as little blue penguins and gannets live there. The Wellington Marine BioBlitz, coordinated by Forest & Bird in October 2007, found more than 600 species inside the proposed reserve in just one month, including at least 6 species new to science. Common dolphins, fur seals, orcas and whales are also visitors.

People are encouraged to visit the marine reserve to dive, swim, kayak and explore the beach but fishing or taking any marine life is not allowed.

The official opening will kick off Conservation Week on September 7, and will include a marine walk with talks and activities between Island Bay and Owhiro Bay quarry. It is organised by Forest & Bird, Department of Conservation and others


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