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Help sought for whitebait spawning site survey

February 26th, 2013

TDC scientists are seeking help from people keen on understanding and protecting our environment to help with the annual survey of the volumes of inanga in our waterways this month.

Following the success of last year's Inanga Spawning Survey, that found significant spawning at all but one of the 20 sites monitored, Council scientists will be holding another series of survey days from 19th to 22nd March, and wants people to help look for the eggs of the small fish, which is one of the species of whitebait.

Trevor James, a resource xcientist with TDC's Environment and Planning Department, says the information gained from this survey will help council protect the spawning areas and the ecological benefits to the whole ecosystem will be considerable.

"Once you have your eye tuned in, anyone can make a good finder of inanga eggs, and a magnifying glass will help," he says. "We will be working mostly nearer Motueka and in Golden Bay. We will have a sort session about how to survey for inanga eggs and then get straight into it."

The proposed schedule of activities in the Motueka area is:

  • 19 March - 8am start (low tide is at 9.30am) - Kayak survey of Motueka Rivers. For the bigger rivers you will have to demonstrate kayaking skills.
  • 20 March - on foot, Mariri Loops - Strong (Eden Rd) Loop and Moana Loop, Moutere River (downside 500m from Jubilee Bridge), Thorpe and Woodmans Drains, Raumanuka Reserve, Moon Creek and Doctors Creek upside of Thorpe St, near Motueka Fulton Hogan yard, Little Sydney, Riwaka River (may need kayak), Atua Creek, Kaiteriteri Creek (back of Bethany Park), and Marahau River (downside of Sandy Bay Rd).

Inanga (Galaxias masculatus) is the best known species of Galaxias and is found around our coastal rivers, streams, lakes and swamps, in almost any fresh water that it can reach in its upstream migration from the sea.

Its familiarity is due to the fact that the inanga juveniles are the most important and abundant species of the infamous annual whitebait catch where it is known to make up 90% of the entire catch.

Aside from bringing great culinary pleasure to many of us, inanga are a source of food for many animals and are known prey for eels, kahawai, flounder and many other fish a well. It is vital that we are able to understand and recognise inanga spawning grounds and their important role in the life of whitebait.

The mature inanga is most easily identified by its well forked tail (caudal fin), thin membranous fins, low pectoral fins, small head and mouth and large eyes. It has a bright, silvery belly.

It commonly reaches between 100 - 110mm in length; in exceptional cases the inanga may grow up to 170mm in New Zealand. The very large fish usually seem to be females.

If you want to take part in this interesting experience, contact Trevor James by emailing


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