This sunny event came at the end of a ten-day research trip which saw scientists Dr Roger Grace and Vince Kerr exploring underwater areas that were flagged as popular spots for potential marine reserve candidate sites in the community survey Fish Forever has conducted over the past year.
About 30 snorkelers of all ages met on the sandy beach of Waewaetorea Island’s north side for a picnic on Sunday 26 Feb. The junior sailors and parents of the Bay of Islands Yacht Club arrived in style on four Solings, the fleet of 26-foot keelers that have been donated to the Bay of Islands Youth Sailing Trust by Sail NZ.
Experiencing Marine Reserve expert Nicki Wakefield briefed the group and her colleague Anton led the snorkelling adventure through the calm waters over rocky reefs on the northeastern side of Waewaetorea.
Of the experience, environmental campaigner Dean Baigent-Mercer said: “It was really inspiring down there because on one hand I could see how what’s left are scraps of a past glory, with not that many fish and heaps of kina. And on the other hand I still saw life that gave me a buzz like tiny snapper, red moki and remnants of swirling seaweed forests which give a hint at how incredibly things would bounce back to abundance over time if protected from fishing.”
You can find out more about getting the Experiencing Marine Reserves program to your school or community group.