Saturday, April 6, 2013

Native fish in the news

A beautiful giant kokopu in the wild. Photo: Brian Sheppard, DOC.
Here are a few articles about native fish that have been in the news lately:

If you want to see some of New Zealand's native fish up close without having to take a safari, come visit our 5000L native fish tank int he Te Awa exhibit. You can see beauties like giant kokopu, redfin bullies and even koaro.

Also, if you want to keep up with the latest native fish news, we recommend you follow the facebook page New Zealand Native Fish.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Congrats Auckland Zoo!

Photo: Auckland Zoo.

Auckland Zoo recently announced a great achievement for native New Zealand frogs - they have successfully bred Archey's frogs in their captive breeding programme!

Read: Big leap forward in breeding of rare frog

If you have visited Te Manawa's frogs before, you might know that our frogs are not native frogs, but imports from Australia. Although we would much rather be displaying New Zealand's unique native frogs, they are highly endangered and - as Auckland Zoo and other captive institutions have found - very difficult to breed in captivity. Perhaps with Auckland's success, more institutions will be able to gain the skills necessary for keeping native frogs and ultimately help to start revitalising the population.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Welcome to our new arrivals

Meet Hasselhoff, one of the new bell frogs in Te Awa exhibition. Photo: Erica Prier

You may have noticed recently that the 'Coming Soon' sign is out and the newest residents of Te Awa are in! Two enclosures in the Conservatory are now full of plants and one of these now has 5 little bell frogs. These guys had only just grown out of their tadpole stage when we put them in the enclosure so they are still quite small, but they will soon be growing several times bigger over the next few months.

Can you spot the frog in this picture? Photo: Erica Prier.

Bell frogs come in a variety of green and brown shades so they camoflauge very well amongst the plants and leaf litter. One of their favourite places to hang out is at the base of the pepper trees or even basking on the leaves. A few of the more bold members of the group love to hang out near the water, earning two of them the name of 'The Hasselhoffs'.

Hasselhoff just after spraying the enclosure. Photo: Erica Prier.

If you're having trouble spotting the frogs, come along to our public feeding on Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and one of the Keepers can help you locate them. In the meantime, we'll keep fattening them up with crickets, fruit flies and mealworms!

P.S. If you're wondering what is going in the other enclosure in the conservatory, we'll be posting about that soon!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Freshwater fish decline not unique to NZ

One of NZ's most endangered species, the Giant KĊkopu. Photo: Shaun Crooks

It turns out that New Zealand isn't the only country to have a rapidly declining population of freshwater fish. A study carried out in North America predicts 86 species and subspecies will go extinct by 2050. The article pins pollution as a major contributor to freshwater fish decline, an issue that is key in waterway degradation in New Zealand as well.

Don't be discouraged by the doom and gloom predictions of this article, though, help keep our waterways and our fish stock healthy by taking simple steps like keeping rubbish and other pollutants out of streams and rivers. It may sound too simple to solve such a serious issue, but every positive effort helps.

For more information on what you can do, read: New Zealand's native freshwater fish (DOC publication)

Weta midwives

Photo: Robert Kitchin/Fairfax NZ

If you caught last Saturday's Manawatu Standard article about the baby cave weta at Te Manawa, you may have noticed that Ange and I have been coined 'weta midwives' due to our successful breeding of cave weta babies.

If you didn't catch it, read it here: Skittish cave dwellers

After reading this article, you might come away thinking "Wow, these guys don't really know much about cave weta at all". And you would be pretty much correct. Cave weta are tricky to study and little has been formally documented about this species, in addition to the difficulty with what constitutes a single species of weta in the first place. Luckily Steve Trewick and his team at Massey are on the case to try to shed more light on weta genetics, and in the meantime, we at Te Manawa will continue collecting as much info as we can on the topic of captive management and breeding.

You may interested to know that since the publishing of this article last week, we have been able to spot nine babies and the biggest babies are growing fast! It will be very exciting to track the progress of these babies as they grow and develop.

If you are visiting Te Manawa and want to spot the babies, you will need to ask a Visitor Host to point them out for you. Or, you can also catch one of us Animal Keepers every Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3pm when we do our Public Fish Feeding.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Te Awa teaser

What do this sign,

a speckled fish

Torrentfish. Photo: Angela Fox
and a bunch of creepy crawlies have in common?

Mealworms (darkling beetle larvae). Photo: Erica Prier.
They are all new and upcoming displays in Te Awa. Stay tuned for more details about the new residents that will be moving into Te Awa over the next few months!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The fritters that never were

Shortjaw kokopu (Floppy above, Grey below). Photo: Angela Fox.
Did you know that whitebait fritters are actually made up of lots of tiny little fish that eventually grow up to be much bigger fish like those in our native tank? Those tiny little fish are called fry and they travel from the sea up our rivers and often into the net of a whitebait fisher. If they aren’t caught, those fry grow up to be a variety of fish in the Galaxias genus, but they are better known to most people as kokopu and inanga.

Giant kokopu (Scarface). Photo: Angela Fox
This giant kokopu is one of those species threatened by over-harvesting. There is increased pressure on all of the whitebait species, with four of the five species considered threatened by the Department of Conservation. Scientists like Mike Joy, a local fish expert from Massey, and anyone passionate about conservation are calling for tighter regulations around whitebait fishing in order to prevent overfishing and the possible collapse of these unique fish.

So the next time you are picking out a treat at the fish ‘n chip shop, spare a thought for our local fish friends and order a hot dog!