Your web browser (Internet Explorer) is out of date. Some things will not look right and things might not work properly. Please download an up-to-date and free browser from here.

Tropical fish hightailing it to New Zealand waters

An invasion of tropical fish previously unseen in New Zealand waters could be an effect of global warming, a marine expert says.

Eyestripe surgeon fish, yellow boxfish, black-spot goatfish, two-tone wrasse and an unknown species of damselfish have been found by divers off the east coast of Northland this month.

Marine expert Wade Doak says they’re an indicator of climate change. “They come down in larval form from places like Lord Howe Island and the Kermadecs and spend the long voyage in a suspended state.”

Doak said the fish travelled as far as islands in the Bay of Plenty but didn’t survive long enough to breed. As waters became warmer though, “sooner or later they’ll find it acceptable”.

He said the new arrivals were welcome but the implication of global warming was that sea levels were rising.

“We have to take this on board and decide whether to invest in beach property.”

Niwa principal scientist James Renwick said the rise in sea temperatures was more to do with a strong La Nina weather pattern than global warming, although that was playing a part.

Fish were sensitive to sea temperatures and even a 1C change could shift stocks a long distance.

Fishing expert Geoff Thomas suspected many tropical species had been in New Zealand for some time.

“It’s just that people haven’t seen them before,” he said.

But Doak said if it wasn’t for divers, scientists wouldn’t know what fish were here.

“If they’ve been there all along I’ll eat my mask.”

By Andre Hueber, Herald on Sunday

Homepage image / CH Davis


westcoast on 27/03/2011 7:24pm

Would it not be more accurate to say sub tropical fish, since Lord How Island and the Kermadec Islands are not in Tropical waters (but not far off being Tropical I guess)

Brutalas on 27/03/2011 7:16pm

The only reason the fish are travelling into NZ Waters is the La Nina, it has absolutely nothing to do with global warming. When are people going to realise there is no global warming and CO2 has no effect on the temperature. The slightly warmer period we witnessed was due to the warm PDO, that has now gone cold and as satellite data is now showing us the planet is cooling again.

westcoast on 27/03/2011 9:36pm

the article does mention La Nina
I do not agree with your statment that there is no Global Warming
La Nina actually brings cooler average global temperatures (warmer for us though)
despite that, the average global temperatures have been near record during this La nina
As El nino comes back eventually the average global temperatures will go up

Rob on 28/03/2011 12:02am

The reason for the global temps still being high was the big El Nino last year this LA Nina only got going late last year.
I have to agree .. there is no global warming .. especially if you look back at the medeval (sp) warm period when temperatures were higher than they are now.
Normal is only to do with the subset of temperatures you use to make your findings show what you want them to show.

westcoast on 28/03/2011 3:02am

I think they have found that Average global (and not just local variations) temperatures are warmer than the Medeval period (and using that as an example is doing what you argue is being done in the first place)

Related Articles