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Sea spurge warning for Kiwi beachgoers

While out and about this summer, Kiwis are being urged to keep their eyes peeled for sea spurge.

The beach is a place thousands of New Zealander's flock to over the holidays to soak up the sunshine, surf and swim.

But there is something New Zealanders should keep a look out for while enjoying their holiday with whanau and friends.

It's called sea spurge, an invasive weed which has been cropping up in parts of Aotearoa.

Sea spurge invades the shores just above the high tide mark, disrupts sand dunes and stops native plants from growing. As it spreads quickly, it can ravage a whole area in a short space of time.

Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are asking people to report any sightings.

Its sap is toxic to humans and animals and can cause skin irritations or temporary blindness if it gets into eyes, so don't try to remove it if you do spot it.

“Having a day at the beach is quintessential to a New Zealand summer but if sea spurge becomes well established in New Zealand, it could jeopardise that.

“If you spot sea spurge let us know by calling the MPI exotic pest line 0800 80 99 66 and make sure to take a photo if you can,” MPI director of readiness and responses John Walsh said.

Sea spurge looks like a small shrub.

It can grow up to about half a metre in height, it has multiple stems that are often reddish at the base, and it has spiky, tightly-packed bluey-green leaves and greenish flowers on the end of the stems.

It was first found in 2012 on New Zealand shores.

It is believed the seeds travelled in ocean currents from Australia where the species is invasive and widely established along the southern coastline.

“While you are out and about this summer — aside from the age-old tropes of slip, slop, slap and wrap, and being a tidy kiwi — we are asking everyone to look out for and report if they see what they think might be sea spurge.

“We can all work together to keep our beaches beautiful and preserve them for generations to come,” Mr Walsh said.

Sea spurge has been found near the following places around the country: Karekare Beach, Aotea Harbour, Mokau, Himatangi and Karamea.

What to do if you think you've found sea spurge:

'Don't disturb the sea spurge plants as it could spread the seeds

'Don't cut sea spurge or try and remove it — its sap is toxic

'Take a photo of the location and a close up of the plants

'Try and get your location as accurate as possible and note it down. GPS if possible

'Call 0800 80 99 66

LOOK OUT FOR ME: Keep an eye out for sea spurge and if you find any contact the Ministry for Primary Industries or DoC. Picture supplied