We started off last week with a bang as Sophie Tweedle, Whitebait Connection Auckland Coordinator, sent a note of appreciation to our hardworking Parks Team. In particular, for restoring the Inanga spawning site on the Mahurangi River.
What is An Inanga?
Inanga is New Zealand’s smallest whitebait species. The Department of Conservation has classified Inanga as one of the at-risk species. One of the reasons why Inanga is declining is because of the disturbance at the spawning sites. This may occur if the river’s vegetation has been cleared.
The photos show the before and after of the site. They show how the vegetation has grown since we started protecting these significant and nationally threatened habitats and species.
Inanga are specific about where they spawn. Allowing the vegetation to grow will help to shade the Inanga’s eggs (keeping the eggs cool is vital for their survival in the river) as well as hold back the soil and runoff from getting down into the harbour.
Sophie Tweedle showed us the eggs found in the natural vegetation in her photos. These photos were a great representation of the ways in which we can preserve our environment without having to invest in restoring the site for Inanga spawning. By restoring the Mahurangi River, the Inanga are able to spawn up to 4 times more than before.
Why is Inanga important?
Inanga is a crucial food source for native fish and birds. They contribute towards the transfer of energy from the ocean into our rivers and lakes. Therefore, it is essential that we protect the Inanga population.
We cannot continue to neglect these spawning sites. Not only will it affect Inanga ability to spawn, it may threaten the survival of these species. However, at UMS we are mindful of our approach and have quickly identified the potential ecological impact it may have on the Inanga population (if the vegetation is cleared).
Even Shelley Hackett, Senior Community Waterways Specialist from Auckland Council said ‘it’s really cool to see this happening in this area. So, thank you for your support with this project’.
The project is aimed at identifying Inanga spawning areas, engaging the community in that process and finding local solutions to protect these significant and nationally threatened habitats and species.