Marine biologist Rebecca Barclay provides an overview of the Mussel Reef Restoration Trust’s key project – Revive Our Gulf. Rebecca gives us the history of the Hauraki Gulf and how Revive Our Gulf is working to restore some of the original ecosystems.
Point of interest
Why did the mussel beds not regenerate? Do you think this is still a problem today?
We all clean with water, but how do you clean water?
Nature does it with filter feeders – animals that can filter particles out of the water.
In the Hauraki Gulf, we are lucky to have green-lipped mussels. They discard particles they can’t eat and deposit them on the seafloor, clearing the water. They can be found all over the Gulf, down to 50 metres deep.
So if a single mussel can filter up to 350 litres of seawater daily, you might think that the Hauraki Gulf must have the clearest water in the world. Well, it doesn’t.
Dense mussel beds once covered much of the Hauraki Gulf. We dredged and exported them during the first half of the 20th century. Although this industry collapsed over 50 years ago, the mussel reefs in the Gulf have not naturally regenerated. Deforestation led to erosion.
These sediments smothered the marine life trying to re-establish itself in the Gulf.
At their prime, seabed mussels could have filtered the water of the Firth every day. Now, it would take 2 years for the remaining reefs to do this.
Revive Our Gulf have been working with mussel farmers to restore the historic mussel reefs so they can filter the water as they used to.
We can clear the water of the Hauraki Gulf, restore the natural ecology and support a greater abundance of fish.
Mussel reefs provide places for animals like snapper, eagle rays and octopus to shelter and grow.
Not only do they act as nurseries for juvenile fish, 10 times more fish and massive numbers of small invertebrates and other marine life are associated with mussel reefs.
Fishers know that snapper love mussels, so mussel farms have become one of the most popular fishing spots in the Gulf.
We’re raising funds, partnering with industry, getting the science right and working with iwi and community groups to revive our Gulf and once again have water we can all be proud of.
Revive Our Gulf, The Mussel Reef Restoration Trust