Goldfish gone, but the eels are thriving

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2014
Pukekura Park
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ
EEL BE BACK: Missing for some months Pukekura Park’s beloved Boris the eel was back in his usual spot to nibble on some ham offered by Pukekura Park curator Chris Connolly yesterday.

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Pukekura Park's feral goldfish population is missing in action but recent work on the garden's two lakes has revealed a thriving eel community.

Water levels at the two ponds have been up and down in recent weeks as work was undertaken to improve the outflow from the main lake to the fountain lake. At one stage the New Plymouth park's lakes were all but empty, with each having just a small stream of water running through them.

Now back to full volume, the lake water is both flowing more easily and seemingly clearer, which has made the absence of the once healthy population of goldfish more noticeable.

Park curator Chris Connolly said park staff had not removed the feral fish and did not know whether they were gone altogether or just gone to ground.

"They are feral goldfish. People have put them in there. We haven't put them in there to eat weed or anything like that. Their population fluctuates. Sometimes they are there and sometimes they are not," he said.

"What we have noticed with lake levels being dropped is a large number of eels, including smaller eels. Which is good to see because I was worried the population was stagnant."

Eels must migrate to sea to breed and while an eel can easily leave the park's lake system, its offspring are unable to get back the same way.

Mr Connolly did not know where the smaller eels were coming from but speculated they must be coming "overland" into one of the many water sources that feed into the lakes.

"Another thing we found when the lakes were lowered was native shellfish. I didn't know they were in the lake either and it shows the diversity of life that we have here," he said.

The lakes have been at the centre of a spending controversy in recent months with the New Plymouth District Council balking at an earlier commitment to clear years of accumulated sludge. The work was the final stage of a million dollar project to improve the water quality of water flowing into and out of the lakes.

Despite not being seen for several months, the park's most famous eel, Boris, made an appearance at its usual spot near the Teahouse yesterday.

The temporary disappearance of the blue-eyed behemoth, which may very well be a Doris, led to concern it may have gone on a permanent visit to the big swamp in the sky.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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