Stingray star of Auckland lagoon
A large stingray that has set up home in an Auckland lagoon is becoming a local celebrity.
The black ray - about 90 centimetres across with a long tail - has been cruising the Onehunga Lagoon since early December.
Yesterday it was completing lazy circuits of a corner of the lagoon, leaving a substantial wake.
An Onehunga local, Kate Ricketts said the stingray had been hanging out in the lagoon for more than a month and people often came to see it.
"It just does circuits, it comes right up to shore," she said.
People were posting about the stingray on social media, including Neighbourly and Facebook, she said.
Auckland Council have put up a sign at the lagoon, warning people to keep their distance to avoid injury.
"It is a wild creature so please treat it with respect and caution," the notice says.
There were no plans to attempt to rescue the stingray, an Auckland Council spokesman said.
"The lagoon has two gates and while one is currently closed, the other is open so we're hopeful it will find its way out to Manukau Harbour," he said.
On Facebook people are warning each other not to let their dogs swim in the lagoon while the stingray is there.
"It's huge!" commented one user.
Rays are often reported inshore or near offshore islands and reefs.
Stingrays can deliver a nasty sting - Australia's Steve Irwin nicknamed "The Crocodile Hunter" was fatally wounded by one in 2006, and swimmers have also been injured by them on New Zealand beaches.
However the only stingray fatality in New Zealand was a Thames swimmer in 1938.
A spokeswoman for Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland said it was occasionally called in to help rescue trapped stingrays, but it had not been contacted to help the Onehunga ray, which meant it was not considered to be in trouble.
Niwa principal scientist for fisheries Malcolm Francis said stingrays became more active in summer as they searched warm, shallow waters for food, and it was probably feasting on small shellfish and molluscs.
"It should be fine," he said.
"It will be aware of the water flow and if it needs to get out it will be able to sense the current and do so."
The creature in question was probably a long-tailed stingray, Francis said.
"That tail looks substantially longer than the length of the disc."