More than 100 tonnes of caulerpa washed up in this Great Barrier Island Bay after Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo / Sid Ware / Ministry for Primary Industries

Aotea Gets High-Tech Weapon to Fight Caulerpa

A new weapon is joining the fight against the invasive Caulerpa algae. The Aotea Caulerpa Response Team, MPI, the Aotea/Great Barrier Local Board and Auckland Council are teaming up to use suction dredges to remove Caulerpa from key locations.

These underwater vacuum cleaners will target Man of War Passage, Motuhaku/Port Abercrombie, and Ahuriri Point – all crucial for protecting both the busy Port Fitzroy and the culturally significant Katherine Bay.

“It’s really great news that suction dredging will take place in these areas where growth has not yet got a strong foothold,” says Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board Deputy Chair, Chris Ollivier.

“By removing caulerpa from these locations, we can slow the spread. It’s still important to continue to report new sightings and follow the ‘bag it and bin it’ advice.”

A separate rōpū of MPI, NIWA and Bay Underwater, have already joined forces with Ngāti Manuhiri, to utilize hand-held suction dredges to remove caulerpa from an area of Iris Shoal near Kawau Island.

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While Caulerpa presence in that area is fortunately sparse, the challenging marine environment with fluctuating depths, tides, and currents presents removal difficulties.

This bright-green invasive caulerpa seaweed is smothering the delicate marine ecosystem on Great Barrier Island. Photo / Glenn Edney
This bright-green invasive caulerpa seaweed is smothering the delicate marine ecosystem on Great Barrier Island. Photo / Glenn Edney

The Kawau project, which began on April 26th, is nearing completion. By May 12th, the team expects to have cleared over 10,000 square meters of Caulerpa. The Aotea collective says that project will provide insights into using diver-controlled suction dredges, especially in demanding conditions.

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The Aotea Caulerpa Response Team says a supplier has been secured to do the suction dredging, and the operation is set to begin later this month.

Caulerpa Alert: What You Need to Know!

Boaties & Divers: Snagged Caulerpa on your anchor or fishing gear? Bag it and bin it! Secure it onboard, then dispose of it properly on land (rubbish bin, or compost, but away from water).

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Beachcombers: Spotted Caulerpa on the shore? Pin, Pic, and Phone! Note the location, take a photo, and report it: 0800 80 99 66 or report.mpi.govt.nz.

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