Hauturu Trip Report
Sunday 22nd of September 2019
Images from the day
Sunday 22nd September I joined the EMR team accompanying Lorna, Sophie and 12 snorkelers to Te Hauturu o Toi, Little Barrier Island. Meeting in the Sandspit Wharf car park from 9:30am as our snorkelers registered their arrival and we allocated their kit, double-suiting to protect against the cool 16oC waters and freeing our inner penguin.
Kurt, our skipper for the day from Gulf Eco Adventures had the boat ready down by the wharf around 10 and everyone helped with loading at the dock. Very important safety briefings from Lorna and Kurt before launching. Our voyage time was a little over an hour across the Jellicoe Channel passing by Kawau Island, unfortunately spotting no orca or dolphins, but this did provide an opportunity to learn about our new friends as we zipped along the water towards our destination. The Eco Warrior anchored in Waimaomao Bay on the North Eastern side of Little Barrier and out of the southerly wind blowing through.
AND-The-water-was-lush! Visibility was up to 12 meters in places and rich with ‘salps’. “Barrel-shaped, planktic tunicates”, if you look up on Wikipedia. But it reminded me of clear jelly lollies, on their own or in long chains, floating weightless this invertebrate was everywhere and fun to swim through. Exploring the bay to ourselves, we discovered it was home to eagle rays, red moki, blue mao mao, John Dory, leather jackets, and a few snapper. However while surveying there was a noticeable lack of a lush kelp forest found in our marine reserves, and an abundance of kina.
It surprised me to learn Little Barrier was New Zealand's first nature reserve, established in 1896, but nearly 125 years later the waters surrounding aren’t a sanctuary for marine life as the island is for wildlife.
The work EMR does and many other programs like it will hopefully change this one day and it was my pleasure to volunteer a little of my time to this larger cause.
I would like to thank everyone who came along, without our participants EMR can’t run the events, without Lorna and Sophie there would be no one to organise it and without Gulf Eco Adventures it would have been a long swim to Little Barrier. (Yes Lorna, I did just steal your joke).
Hope to see you all during the season.