August 05, 2018

Spring is in the ... tidal current

This project is knocking on the door of 1300 observations, making it the largest and most successful of the New Zealand marine reserve projects to date.

With another substantial contribution of observations from Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin it is apparent that spring is on its way. Many of the male triplefins photographed in the reserve recently are in their breeding colours meaning they're likely to be courting females and guarding eggs.

Observations from last summer indicate it was a good one for the recruitment of leatherjackets and trevally on to the South Coast with large numbers of recently settled juveniles photographed in the marine reserve. Juveniles of several other species of interest were also noted in the reserve, those being magpie morwong, goatfish and red moki.

Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin has also posted several images of an undescribed species of anemone ('Undescribed species 1, pp 164-165, New Zealand Coastal Marine Invertebrates) found in the reserve (, Although undescribed, this species is common on subtidal rocky reefs from Northland to Stewart Island. The fact that it remains undescribed highlights how little we know about even common coastal species.

Posted on August 05, 2018 21:59 by clinton clinton | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 02, 2018

Mystery of the orange anemone solved (for now)

Well after much debate we seem to have solved the mystery of the small orange anemones first observed by @donnacha . It looks like his hunch ( was right as the current consensus of opinion is that they are the southern New Zealand species Habrosanthus bathamae (Sagartiidae) - see The few images of this species available online show specimens exposed at low water that are much more brightly coloured than the ones so far photographed in the marine reserve. Its not clear to me at least if this is a photographic artifact, or because of the relatively small size of the ones seen so far. That aside, reference to Steve Cook's 'New Zealand Coastal Marine Invertebrates' revealed images of specimens identified as H. bathamae (pg. 162) that are almost identical to those photographed by @sarahmilicich. The Cook book does it again.

Posted on May 02, 2018 10:13 by clinton clinton | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 20, 2018

Progress report March 20, 2018

As of this morning this project contained 924 observations covering at least 235 mainly marine species (there are a couple of terrestrial interlopers that have been recorded on the fringe of the intertidal zone or foraging in it at low water).

The coverage of observations is best along the rocky coastline, with relatively few from the beaches and virtually none at all from the western edge of the reserve, around Taputeranga Island or in the deep offshore areas.

The number of subtidal observations has recently been boosted by Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin's (donnacha) contributions, particularly his documentation of the occurrences of a juvenile magpie morwong, a juvenile goatfish (aka red mullet) and a potentially undescribed species of anemone ( in the reserve. Identification (or not) of the anemone benefited greatly from Tony Wills' contributions and those of Michela Mitchell, Museum Victoria. More of this interesting little critter can be seen at and It would be really interesting to get more observations of this species, inside and outside the marine reserve, so that we can get a better understanding of its distribution.

Posted on March 20, 2018 03:47 by clinton clinton | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 15, 2018

Australian immigrant spotted on the South Coast.

Congratulations to Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin for his observation of a juvenile magpie perch/magpie morwong (Cheilodactylus nigripes) hiding among paua on the wreck of the Yung Pen, Owhiro Bay, on 14 February ( Although the first record of this species from New Zealand waters dates back to 1915, relatively few have been observed since then. A close relative of the more familiar red moki (Cheilodactylus spectabilis) this species is common in southern Australia (South Australia, Victoria, southern NSW) where it inhabits coastal reefs between 1-30 m depth. Almost all reports from New Zealand have been from the west coasts of North and South Islands, from Fiordland to Northland, suggesting they arrived here as larvae that were spawned across the Tasman. Most reports have been of individual fish but in December 2004 I found them to be relatively common along the Abel Tasman coastline in Tasman Bay, occasionally seeing more than one on a dive. Donnacha's observation appears to be the first record of the species from Wellington's South Coast but I stand to be corrected on that.

Posted on February 15, 2018 01:59 by clinton clinton | 0 comments | Leave a comment