Marine Life

This page introduces the marine life which characterises the Taputeranga Marine Reserve. On the right of the page are main sea life groupings as well as a little about the shore and marine habitats. Go to these articles to learn more about the special plants and animals which can be seen in the reserve. The articles are gleaned from our Newsletters and from other sources, and we will add more over time. As a brief introduction:

blue cod francis Blue cod Photo: M. Francis

Over 180 fish species have been recorded on Wellington’s south coast. Common species include butterfish, blue moki, blue cod, banded wrasse, variable triplefin and spotty. Occasionally seen species include snapper, long-tailed stingray, and the seahorse. Although common, seahorses are well camouflaged during the day, but at night their eyes can be picked up by torchlight, shining like cats’ eyes.

see some of the fish here

Trapania rudmani  Nudibranch Photo: S. Journee

The area is particularly rich in invertebrates (animals without backbones).

Octopus, rock lobsters, crabs and starfish are common. The sandy shores are characterised by animals such as shellfish, and worms which live in the sediment. Thriving on shady underwater rock walls, which are free from algae, are filter-feeding animals such as anemones, sea sponges and sea squirts. The South Coast also features some tiny but highly coloured nudibranchs.

Less common are the ancient brachiopods – shallow water shellfish with two different-sized hinged valves. The sea hare and sea cucumber can also be found here, feeding on seaweed.

+ see some of the invertebrates here

Bull Kelp Bull kelp Photo: MH

Providing habitat, food and shelter, almost half of New Zealand’s 850 seaweed species can be found here.

Hardy species able to tolerate burial and sand abrasion, such as Gymnogon grusfurcatus, G.humilis, and G. torulosus are common on the sandy, exposed shores of the marine reserve.

The brown, leathery straps of Durvillea antarctica(bull kelp), can be seen swirling near the surface in rough wave-exposed rocky shores.

In more sheltered spots, such as between Island Bay and Taputeranga Island, forests of Macrocystis pyrifera (bladder or giant kelp) up to 20m tall are found with blades floating on the surface. Close into shore bed of brown algae, such as  strapweed and flapjack are mixed in with many other brown, green and red seaweeds.

see some seaweed here