Plea to stop slimy ma­rine pest

Rodney Times - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - DELWYN DICKEY

As the weather warms up and the glis­ten­ing Hau­raki Gulf beck­ons, boat­ies are be­ing asked to help slow the spread of the in­va­sive sea squirt Eud­is­toma elon­ga­tum.

Auck­land Coun­cil wants boat­ies to check their boat hulls and clean them, out of the wa­ter.

A na­tive of Aus­tralia, it was first spot­ted in oys­ter farms in Houhora Har­bour 12 years ago, and has now spread through­out the north.

Able to sur­vive be­ing out of the wa­ter be­tween tides makes it a sig­nif­i­cant nui­sance for mus­sel and oys­ter farm­ers.

Not poi­sonous or toxic, the squirt breeds in clus­ters of slimy white tubes that grow from five cen­time­tres to more than a me­tre long and from 5 mil­lime­tres to two cen­time­tres thick.

It ac­counts for half of ma­rine waste on north­ern oys­ter farms dur­ing sum­mer, North­land Re­gional Coun­cil Biose­cu­rity Of­fi­cer, Cameron Bun­ton said.

Sand, mud, wharf piles - the fast grow­ing pest grows al­most any­where. It com­petes with na­tives for space, and fil­ter feeds on the eggs and lar­vae of na­tive ma­rine life.

Wark­worth ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Dr Roger Grace spot­ted it at Sand­spit seven years ago.

He raised con­cerns dredg­ings, from the Sand­spit Ma­rina build, dumped near Cu­vier Is­land, could help spread the squirts in the gulf.

Found in Oakura Bay on Wai­heke Is­land last year, it is now in the Mahu­rangi Har­bour.

The tubes are in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to con­trol or pick off, as they grow back and spread from bro­ken bits, Auck­land Coun­cil Ma­rine Biose­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Sa­man­tha Happy ad­vised.

It is a par­tic­u­lar risk to moored boats in mari­nas that may not get cleaned or taken out reg­u­larly, she said.

Some Sand­spit boats al­ready have the squirts on them, Grace said.

Pon­toons have also spread the pest in the north, Bun­ton said.

‘‘The pest will change our beau­ti­ful fore­shores as we know it, for­ever, and is nearly im­pos­si­ble to con­trol once it’s es­tab­lished,’’ Happy said.

If you see these pests out­side of recorded sites note the lo­ca­tion, take a photo/sam­ple and re­port it to the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries on 0800 80 99 66.

For ad­vice, con­tact Auck­land Coun­cil biose­cu­rity on (09) 301 0101 or biose­cu­rity@auck­land­coun­cil.govt.nz.

DELWYN DICKEY

Ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist Roger Grace found the in­va­sive sea squirt Eud­is­toma elon­ga­tum at Sand­spit in 2010.

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