Marine Life

 The Otago Peninsula is renowned internationally for its abundance of incredible sub-Antarctic wildlife.  Sir David Bellamy, once commented “in my opinion, the Otago Peninsula is the finest example of eco-tourism in the world” Seals and Sea Lions come ashore to lie on the rocks of the Otago Peninsula.  At Taiaroa Head, the Royal Albatross has established its only land-based breeding colony in the world. 


Galleries

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    Fish and Mammals

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    Invertebrates

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    List


  Fish and Mammals | Invertebrates 

Spotted Wrasse  

Spotted Wrasse

Notolabrus celidotus

Spotty

FISH and Mammals

The spotty is the most common reef fish found in New Zealand, they are found everywhere from estuaries to reefs, usually shallower than 10m. They are extremely active by day and rest in crevices, kelp or on flat open bottoms by night. During which they secrete a mucous coating over themselves for protection. All fish start as females and change to males at around 3 to 4 years old, as they grow the spot moves higher on the back and eventually breaks up along the very top.

Can grow up to 30cm, and live for 7 years. Maturity is reached in their 1st or 2nd year of life at around 10-15cm.

Sprat  

Sprat

FISH and Mammals

Large schools of small bait fish known as sprats sometimes frequent the harbour entrance. They become prey to larger fish including salmon, and even dolphins will follow them in and herd them into large bait balls.

Commonly seen up to 10cm in length.

Tarakihi  

Tarakihi

Nemadactylus macropterus

FISH and Mammals

The tarakihi is silver grey and easily identified by its black band descending from its back just behind the head. Usually found over mud or sand bottoms with a nearby weed line from which they suck their food. They are not very common at local dive sites but are sometimes found at Aramoana and Wellers rock at certain times of the year.

Can grow up to 60cm and may reach up to 45 years of age.

Telescopefish  

Telescopefish

Mendosoma lineatum

FISH and Mammals

Telescopefish are a part of the trumpeter family which includes the moki and the trumpeter. They are green above and silver below and form large fast moving schools around reefs. They have a telescopic jaw they use to snap up small fishes and crustaceans. Very large telescopefish can be seen around Aramoana, and smaller fish forming large bait schools found on the offshore reefs.

Lengths of up to 40cm.

Thornfish  

Thornfish

Bovichtus variegatus

FISH and Mammals

Thornfish range in colour from black, green, brown and red and mottled with with lighter colours. They have a large spine above their gill plate from which they get their name. Usually found on rock walls or overhangs clinging upside down, they are well camouflaged and may only be seen as they dart away when disturbed. They are seen more frequently on night dives than during the day .around the wrecks of Aramoana

Length of up to 25cm.

Topknot  

Topknot

Notoclinus fenestratus

FISH and Mammals

The topknot is the master of disguise, it has transparent windows in its fins which helps it blend in to look like seaweed. They move about on their sides or upside down and look like seaweed tumbling in the current, or sometimes walk around on their pectoral fins. They live in seaweed usually shallower than 5m, they can be frequently found however the tricky part is seeing past their camouflage. Usually a red to brown colour, however they can be yellow gold or green. A good place to start looking is in the red seaweeds at Aramoana, where they are occasionally seen.

It is the largest triplefin in the world and comes in at maximum size of 22cm.

Trumpeter  

Trumpeter

Latris lineata

FISH and Mammals

The trumpeter is white with 3 significant black stripes along its back, and a yellow tinge around the fins and tail. They can be found in schools more commonly on offshore reefs, large schools are seen on the reefs of Moeraki. Inshore they are more commonly found schooling amongst blue and copper moki.

Fish of up to 45cm are commonly seen, once they reach maturity at this size they form large aggregations in deeper water where they may reach sizes of up to 120cm.

Variable Triplefin  

Variable Triplefin

Forsterygion varium

FISH and Mammals

The variable triplefin is a very common triplefin seen at all of our dive sites. It has brown to black blotches along its body, separated by cream-white spots, and blue margins along the first, second, and anal fins which are more easily noted in spawning males who turn grey black. They feed on small crustaceans and fishes.

One of the larger triplefins it may grow up to 20cm

Yellow-black Triplefin  

Yellow-black Triplefin

Forsterygion flavonigrum

FISH and Mammals

Another member of the triplefin family, the yellow-black triplefin is named after its colour. The front half of the body is pinkish white and the back half yellow, a black stripes also extends halfway along the body from the eyes. In spawning males the body and fins are bright yellow and the entire head is black. Can be found on the deeper wrecks and boulders past 12m at Aramoana.

Size varies between 4-7cm in length.