Mareike Babuder, ocean-lover and volunteer with Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve, talks about what she loves most about this marine reserve on Wellington’s south coast.
What would you think if I told you there’s a hidden world in front of your eyes?
A world full of weird creatures, slimy, spiny, in all variations of colours and shapes, some moving and growing with record-breaking speed, others barely leaving the spot they choose to be their forever home. A world full of contrasts, so different to the one most of us know, yet so similar.
Would you believe me?
The world I am talking about lies underneath the waves, hidden beneath the so-bare looking surface. And one of the best places the beauty of this unique environment can be experienced is just in front of our capital Wellington’s doorstep.
Taputeranga Marine Reserve covers over 800 hectares of ocean and coastline (that’s 440-times the size of Wellington’s the Sky Stadium!) between Lyall Bay and Te Kopahou Reserve in the of Wellington with the aim to conserve and protect its pristine wildlife.
In a Marine Reserve, all natural features are protected by a ban on activities such as fishing and gathering marine life, damaging or taking natural things such as rocks or shells, as well as littering and polluting through dumping of fish waste or discharge of toxic substances.
These restrictions allow our marine taonga animals and plants to flourish and have led over the years to a great abundance of over 180 species. This includes fish like blue cod/pākirikiri and butterfish/mararī, crayfish/kōura and crabs, sea urchins/kina and pāua the size of your head, a variety of starfishes, large sponges, and octopi – all incredible creatures that call the marine reserve their home.
The basis for all this life is large, habitat-forming seaweeds that grow dense underwater forests giving shelter and food to their inhabitants. Protected from direct sunlight and strong wave forces, you’ll find smaller, delicate red seaweeds growing in the understory right next to anemones shining in the most radiant colours. If you look closely enough, you might even spot one of the many varieties of marine slugs or nudibranchs which are known for their breathtaking display of colours and pattern and are often not larger than a fingernail!
So what are you waiting for? Grab your swim gear, snorkel and mask and explore the hidden world full of wonders. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, don’t worry. You can hire everything you need from the nearby dive shops or join one of many free community snorkel events organised by Mountains to Sea Wellington, or look out for other companies that offer guided trips. There’s even a Toyota Kiwi Guardians map!
If the ocean isn’t your element, go for a stroll along the beach at low tide and check out what extraordinary findings you can make in the rockpools or check out www.taputeranga.org.nz or www.adventure360.co.nz for some amazing 360° video and photo tours through the reserve. You do not want to miss it!
How you can help protect marine wildlife
We can all contribute to preserving and protecting this pristine environment in many ways, and I encourage everyone to do what they can to support marine reserves anywhere in Aotearoa!
- Report illegal or suspicious activities (someone fishing or taking marine life from the reserve or harassing marine animals) by calling 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362468) and if possible to do so, take a photograph of the activity, the people and vehicle licence plate.
- Report oil spills or pollution to the Greater Wellington Regional Council (0800 496734).
- Take all rubbish with you or dispose in rubbish bins provided.
- Support local trusts and organisations that organise educational events and do incredible conservation work in order to keep this important environment as beautiful as it is for many generations to come.
Find out how you can become a friend of Taputeranga and support this amazing place.