They turned out in their dozens to get their hands in the mud.
The Pauatahanui Inlet cockle count, which takes place every three years, was held in sunny weather on Sunday.
The count is one of many indicators the regional council and Porirua City Council use to test the health of the inlet.
Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet’s former chairman, John Wells, said volunteers from the two councils, Ngati Toa and Massey University were wel- come additions and bolstered numbers to about 115.
The count has been held since 1991, with cockles analysed from 31 sites around the inlet.
The distribution and size of the cockles had stayed steady for 22 years, Mr Wells said, indicating the area was in relatively good shape.
‘‘Since 1992 [when the first results were known] the cockle population has been stable. But we can’t be sure of the current state until we get this survey’s results,’’ he said.
The results will be posted on the Guardians’ website.
Porirua Harbour Strategy coordinator Keith Calder said the big three challenges identified in the strategy were to reduce sedimentation, reduce pollution and restore the ecology of the harbour.
He said the cockle survey was an important piece of the data Porirua Harbour Strategy collected.
Mr Wells said Ngati Toa and the councils had shown interest in doing a cockle count on the Onepoto arm of Porirua Harbour.