The Tauranga DOC team have been all at sea lately – literally.
Rangers Dan and Dave have been speaking at the local Bluewater Classic & One Base fishing competition briefings and regularly patrolling the Tuhua Marine Reserve to make sure that everyone knows where the marine reserve is and keeps their fishing rods out of it. Dan is also making preparations for next week’s annual fish survey in the reserve with marine studies staff and students from the Bay of Plenty Polytech.
Tuhua Marine Reserve is one of over 30 no-take marine reserves established around New Zealand to protect marine organisms and their habitats for future generations to come. It’s a great place to dive or snorkel and enjoy some magical underwater scenery.
Ranger Laura has been catching up with our local permitted dolphin watching operators to make sure they’re keeping the best interests of the dolphins at heart. Commercial operators can help to protect dolphins by giving people the opportunity to see, fall in love with and learn about them. The permits we issue and monitor require operators to meet set conditions and follow the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations so that their impacts on the dolphins are minimised.
All boaties can help to look after whales, dolphins and seals by making sure that they know and follow the rules. The regulations include rules about safe boat speed, distance and angles of approach so that people can enjoy watching whales, dolphins and seals without causing them harm.
Our Maori Cadet – Ranger Awhi & I took Oscar the seal to the Maketu Kaimoana Festival last weekend. We use him to help us educate people about marine reserves and marine mammal protection. We also set up a fishing game so that kids (and their parents) could learn the no-fishing rule in marine reserves and practice measuring fish to check if they meet the Ministry of Fisheries size limits for recreational fishing.
With Seaweek (7-14 March) coming up I’ve got more work for Oscar this weekend – I’ll be taking him down to the Mount Maunganui Underwater Club Clean-up at Pilot Bay on Saturday to meet the locals there. There’s lots happening around the country for Seaweek – its all listed on the website: www.seaweek.org.nz. Some of the Tauranga event line-up includes:
- a public ‘virtual tour’ of the Tuhua Marine Reserve that Ranger Pete is organising on Thursday 11th March where our marine scientist – Kim Young, will share underwater photos and the findings from over a decade of fish monitoring in the reserve
- A Sea Bird Cruise with the South Sea Sailing Company and local bird expert Tony Crocker on 13th March
- a marine photography field trip with Dr Kim Westerskov and Captain Graeme Butler on 21 March & 11 April
Aside from Seaweek, March is a good month in Tauranga for getting involved in or learning more about caring for our environment. The Tauranga Environment Centre have put together an amazing calendar of events for “Sustainable Backyards” month; from an educational harbour cruise or guided bush walk to organic farm tours and cheese-making workshops, there’s something for everyone – make sure you check it out.
Sea you out there!