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Checking on health of Marine Reserve at Pouawa

For the second time since it opened, the Marine Reserve at Pouawa has been videoed underwater to establish how healthy an environment it is.

The baited underwater video monitoring (BUV) at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve is just the beginning of ongoing work there, said Department of Conservation (DoC) marine communications adviser Casey Spearin.

“The reserve has a long history of surveying koura (crayfish), whose population has rebounded since the reserve was established in 1999.

“The BUV will help determine if the population of other species has been rebounding, for instance red moki, blue cod and snapper.”

Gisborne DoC biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk was on the boat for the underwater monitoring.

Asked for his overall impression of how healthy the reserve was, Mr Quirk said it was a very difficult question to answer.

“There are obviously differences from inside and outside the reserve. Basically the reserve is helping in the protection of marine biodiversity.”

Mr Quirk said the clarity of the water stood out to him, but he had no particular concerns about the standard of sea life in the reserve.

“There are vast numbers of triplefins in the intertidal platforms. These are easily seen (because of their) bright colour. They can be territorial.

“Baited underwater video analysis of film is always exciting — you get to see various fish and the way they interact. We got some good footage of blue cod interacting with some lobsters.”

The biggest predator to the sea life in the reserve is humans.

“It s very disappointing that a small proportion of our society think that it's OK to take sea life from a marine reserve. Ngati Konohi and DoC went to a lot of effort to get a Marine Reserve in place to protect the marine biodiversity of the East Coast. The reserve has been in place for 21 years. It is well signposted and a well-known site where people can visit and see our incredible diverse marine life.

“The reserve covers a small area of the coast and there is ample opportunity to legally harvest seafood around the region from numerous sites outside of the reserve.”

Second time in 20 years: Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Qurik with the full Baited Underwater Video frame used to check on the sea life and overall health of Tairawhiti's marine reserve out at Pouawa. Picture supplied
Keeping TABS ON UNDERWATER LIFE: Swimming safely in the marine reserve is a Leathejacket fish -- the name comes from the thick, tough, leathery skin, which lacks normal scales and can be peeled off like a jacket.
CAught on camera: This Eagle Ray glided past during the under watre videoing that took place last week out at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve to check on the sea life there.
CRUISING: Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk drives the DoC boat while DoC marine ecosystems intern Hiromi Beran gets ready to haul the Baited Underwater Video frame to the surface. PIcture supplied