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News in Brief: May 2020

4 min read

No rod? No problem

A Tauranga man caught a 20kg kingfish with his bare hands while on a stroll. Logan Reid was walking his dog at Miles Lane Reserve when he spotted the kingfish lying on its side.

“It looked like a shark swimming in the distance,” he was quoted as saying by NZ Herald.

“I just saw this large fish here and thought, I’ve got to have it.”

With no fishing gear, Reid grabbed a nearby branch. “Every 10 seconds it would open its gills … I popped the stick closer and as it opened its gills, I just thrust it straight in there.”

He caught the fish by the tail, throwing it onto the grass when it tried to wiggle away. “If I had caught that on the rod, I’d have it on for easily 20 minutes, half an hour with the rod right bent over,” Reid said.

RCCNZ: consider rescuers before you head out

Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) is asking people thinking about recreational activities on the water to consider if it is necessary for them to go out while New Zealand continues its heightened response to COVID-19.

RCCNZ manager Mike Hill said while saving lives remained the number-one priority, rescuers could be put at risk by COVID-19, as they may have to burst their bubble to provide assistance.

The call follows the RCCNZ-coordinated rescue of a kayak fisherman, a nautical mile (1.8km) off Motuwi Island (Double Island) on the Coromandel Peninsula. The man fell out of his kayak but was able to set off a Personal Locator Beacon.

The alert was received by RCCNZ at 11:10am and the team sent the Westpac Rescue Helicopter from Auckland 

An off-duty charter fishing operator based on the coast nearby heard about the rescue and launched his boat. He was able to pluck the kayak fisherman from the water before the helicopter arrived. The kayak fisherman was taken safely ashore.

“While some boating activities are allowed at Level 3, you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘Do I need to go out and who else might my decision affect?’ We all have to play our part in the fight against COVID-19. Staying home could be the best option for you and New Zealand,” Hill said.

Extremely rare albino shark discovered in Auckland

An extremely rare albino shark has been discovered in a collection of Auckland War Memorial Museum. Dr Finucci, who visited the museum in 2018 to help identify and organise specimens in the deepwater shark collection, spotted the strange-looking shark while working through the hundreds of specimens.

“I hadn’t seen an albino shark before; it was quite unique,” she said. “Sharks are normally dark in colour, so it stood out. After looking over the animal, there was no indication that the animal had any pigment.”

The shark was caught by a research vessel at Cape Palliser in the Wairarapa in 1984 and was sent to the Auckland War Memorial Museum where it remained unstudied for 36 years.

Albinism is a condition that occurs when an animal produces little or no melanin pigment, which causes white hair, skin, and scales and occasionally, red eyes.

“After looking through some literature, I couldn’t find anything that reported albinism in the lanternshark family, Etmopteridae, so it was a new record. We can’t say for certain how many sharks are albino because the deepsea is so understudied, but it is a rare occurrence,” said Dr Finucci.

Forest & Bird: Wellbeing and more at risk if water quality not fixed fast

Forest & Bird is urging the local and central government to look into the latest report released by the Ministry for the Environment (MIE) on freshwater that warns of the consequences if there is “no change in how New Zealand treats its environment”.

“The path we are on threatens our native species and our own wellbeing,” said Forest & Bird freshwater advocate Tom Kay. “New Zealand’s freshwater has reached breaking point.

Political and policy leaders have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the changes we need to save our people and our natural world. We need clean water and flowing rivers, and right now our freshwater needs us to protect it.”

MIE’s reports highlight how many activities undertaken, continue to affect the natural ecosystems. The report also states how many impacts on freshwater are slow to reverse and some others are irreversible.

“New Zealanders love nature and want to protect it,” Kay said. “Right now, we have an opportunity to transition away from environmentally destructive farming, forestry, and urban development practices. The right legal reforms, economic incentives, and regulatory systems can protect and restore our freshwater.”

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