Rare whitebait found in city stream

Last updated 12:02 29/01/2014

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A rare species of whitebait has been found during a survey of streams in Porirua's Bothamley Park.

Victoria University ecologist Frances Forsyth said shortjaw kokopu was a rare find in the Wellington region, especially in an urban stream.

"Shortjaw kokopu is the rarest of the five whitebait species, usually found as only as solitary fish or in low numbers at any given site," she said.

"The other whitebait species are inanga, banded kokopu, giant kokopu and koaro."

Because the shortjaw kokopu is so rarely seen, little is known about its life history. The only other recorded sighting was in Wellington's Kaiwharawhara Stream in 2004.

"It is heartening to make this find and to note that there are also populations of a number of other native fish species in streams throughout the park," Forsyth said.

Porirua City Council leisure assets and services manager Jonathan Gulland said the find was a reminder to residents "that the only thing that should go down stormwater drains in the street and on their property is rainwater".

All stormwater drains feed into the city's streams and out to Porirua Harbour so contaminants like paint, car-wash suds and dirt should never be washed or poured in to drains, he said.

The council used ecological contractors, Wildland Consultants Ltd, to survey the native fish living in Bothamley Park streams to identify fish-passage barriers as part of the park's restoration.

"The discovery of a rare native fish in the park is exciting and shows the benefits of protecting streams and their margins," Gulland said.

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- The Dominion Post

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