Divers and volunteers band together to save stranded shellfish and sea life
A rescue operation has been launched to help shell-shocked sea life on the new sea shore of the Kaikoura coast.
Thousands of paua have been thrust from their watery homes after the devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake lifted the coastline on Monday morning.
Residents around the Kaikoura area up to Ward, in southern Marlborough, have described a rise of 2 metres, exposing sea life including paua, crayfish and leaving fish stranded and dead.
But commercial divers and volunteers up and down the east coast are hitting the new beaches to help, prying paua off the rocks and returning them to the water.
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Commercial paua diver Tim Mcleod, of Ward, said he and a group of divers were heading to the coast on Tuesday to try and minimise damage to the fishery.
"We've got commercial paua divers from the area going out to Cape Campbell light house to do what we can to save paua and lobsters," he said.
Paua Industry Council chairman Storm Stanley said if the shellfish remained undisturbed and there were cool conditions they might survive for a couple more days.
"We don't want thousands of people down there using a screwdriver or a knife to remove paua and throw them into the sea, because they will likely die that way," he said.
"If you want to shift paua, you should get them off the rock carefully and put them face down onto reef that is similar to where they are.
"The main thing we've got underway is we're organising an overflight to do some filming to determine the extent of the situation."
A Ministry for Primary Industry spokesperson said the ministry was supporting the paua council in its endeavour.
Conway Flat resident Anna Redmond, who photographed the coast around the small settlement of Oaro, helped return sea creatures to their homes on Monday.
"It's incredible how high the sea bed has risen, combined with the massive king tides we had the water was out further than normal, it exposed so much," she said.
"We moved a lot of crayfish and small fish, because they were trapped in pools - there were a few people taking a couple paua because, being so exposed they're not going to survive very long."
Burkhart Fisheries co-owner Trevor Burkhart said the new coastline left fewer rocks for paua to cling onto.
"The habitat changes will be pretty detrimental in some places, for people to go get a feed, it's probably going to be harder it the rocks stay out of the water," he said.
Burkhart went to Ward Beach on Monday morning, where he estimated the coastline had risen about 1.8m, exposing kelp, fish and paua.
The reaction from most recreational and commercial fishers was to help return them to the water, he said.
"All the people I'm talking to, their first instinct last night was to save all the paua and fish that are there, but if they're not able to save them you might as well take some for a feed."
- The Marlborough Express