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Mana Island update by Marina Skinner

posted Mar 2, 2011, 4:51 PM by Allie BioBlitz   [ updated Feb 1, 2012, 6:43 PM ]

Future biologists at work

posted Mar 2, 2011, 4:45 PM by Allie BioBlitz

On March 1 at Titahi Bay, Raumati Beach School children went on a hunt, eager to discover new creatures at the BioBlitz.

The children’s knowledge of our native species and their habitats was impressive, especially considering it was their first field trip. They were quick to name their discoveries, which included starfish, kina, paua, sea worms, crabs, sea snails, sand hoppers and even a clown fish.

They found many creatures hiding in all kinds of places - swimming in between the rock pools, swinging from native bush, in the sand dunes and underneath drift wood on the beach.

The children were most excited about the rock pools, where they had the chance to match their finds to the variety of species in the rock pool guide to see if they had discovered any new creatures.

Scientists showed the children different ways to find creatures. They put a sheet under the trees and shook them. The insects that fell out were easy to see on the sheet.  They planted plastic cups filled with insect treats to attract little critters. 

They learnt that different species have different habitats, and the importance of protecting them from pests and pollution.

Luck was on our side with the weather as the rain bucketed down just after the children went back to school, filled with motivation to learn more about our native species.

By Forest & Bird intern Tamara Novak

By Graham Bird

posted Mar 1, 2011, 8:20 PM by Allie BioBlitz

Bioblitz material has given up three completely new species, and three described but as-yet unpublished species!

The two new genera (in families Leptocheliidae and ‘Colletteidae?’) are new records for the taxa in the in-press paper, along with Araphura n.sp. The Zeuxoides rimuwhero was described in my 2008 paper, and the Zeuxoides n.sp. is completely new and a BioBLitz find. Incredibly, I found another two new taxa in a sample from Onehunga Bay that I sorted through last night – a new Paratanais species and a tiny new nototanaid – possibly a new Nototanais species.
In a country like NZ there are many species of around 5mm which have yet to be studied and so it is not surprising that we often discover new species of these small creatures.

By Marina Skinner F&B Communications Manager

posted Mar 1, 2011, 8:13 PM by Allie BioBlitz

I I spent a fascinating day in the company of two scientists on a trip to Mana Island on Friday 25 Feb. Rick Webber and Graham Bird were looking for amphipods, isopods and tanaids – new words to me. I know these creatures as sandhoppers or slaters or shrimp-type creatures, and I was surprised to learn they are all types of crustacean.

Rick and Graham explored the rock pools at the south end of Mana Island, turning over rocks and picking up crabs just as they did when they were kids.

Graham gathered bits of weed and other rock pool habitat to take away and search later for tiny tanaids. He also used a sort of colander to search for marine creatures.

He picked a fragile limpet (Atalacmea fragilis) off one rock and found a spider sheltering underneath. We encountered half crabs (Petrolisthes elongatus) and other creamy-coloured crabs, along with glossy red beadlet anemones (Actinia tenebrosa).

Rick held in his hand what looked like a delicate blue bottle – a by-the-wind-sailor (Velella velella) – which are completely harmless to humans.
We have since learnt that Graham has found several new species which will be described in scientific papers in the near future - it was exciting to be part of this new discovery.

Weird Beasts spotted at Titahi Bay

posted Feb 27, 2011, 12:59 PM by Allie BioBlitz

On Sunday afternoon several strange sandy creatures were seen along the beach at Titahi Bay.
Ranging frrom a nudibranch with seaweed gills waving in the wind, to a many legged Octopus type monster, a winged snake with a sting in its tail, the Loch Ness monster - and a mermaid! A sunny day enhanced the fun for the BioBlitz sand creature competition entrants.

Night Fishing

posted Feb 27, 2011, 11:41 AM by Allie BioBlitz

Friday night's exploration of some of the freshwater streams and ponds within the BioBlitz boundaries revealed a few small short-finned eels, several common bullies and many small banded kokopu. It was amazing to see what is there if you take the time to look, and even more incredible to learn about the life cycle of these NZ natives - which I had never even seen before. Fish that can scale tree roots to climb upstream, and the fact that the long finned eel goes all the way to Tonga to breed just the once - and then dies. We were lucky with the weather and had a really enjoyable and informative torchlit walk through bush and along the river banks.

Beach Sculpture: - "Beach Beasties" Sun 27 February

posted Feb 23, 2011, 4:27 PM by Allie BioBlitz   [ updated Feb 23, 2011, 7:14 PM ]

Use the beach and create your seaside pet or sand creature.
The beach beastie and sand creature display and competition will run
on Sunday 27 February
Building can start at any time. The judging will be at 2pm.
First prize is a trip for 2 to Kapitit Island - kindly donated by Kapiti Tours
Other prizes donated by Forest & Bird

Search for native fish in our streams Friday 25 Feb

posted Feb 23, 2011, 2:01 PM by Allie BioBlitz   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 5:20 PM ]

Guided Freshwater Fish walk in Stuart
Park, 25.2.11 This involves walking in the bush at night with torchlight.
Meet at Old Cable House at 9pm
Please email to book:

Special Price Boat Trips

posted Feb 20, 2011, 10:06 PM by Allie BioBlitz   [ updated Feb 23, 2011, 1:47 PM ]

Book a trip to Mana Island. Trips running during last week of BioBlitz.
Go to the diary page for more info.

New Species Identified!

posted Feb 20, 2011, 9:56 PM by Allie BioBlitz

Sarah Gerken, a crustacean specialist visiting NIWA from Alaska, found a small cumatean at Onepoto bay in Porirua. It is 4 - 5 mm long, the genus is Colurostylis, but it is definitely a new species. Sarah has discovered 70 previously unidentifed crustaceans since she arrived in NZ a few months ago. It is amazing how many little things live right under our noses, or toeses as they are mostly at ground level, and escape our notice.

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