Eels suffer as waterways dry up in Hawke’s Bay

As river levels drop and the Hawke’s Bay summer dry conditions continues, residents near Waipawa have reported having to dispose of five wheelbarrows full of dead eels from a dried-up creek.

When investigating this report, DOC Rangers and Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea representatives found around 50 more eels dead in a nearby dried up waterway.

A mass eel-rescue was also carried out by pupils from Te Kura Kaupapa o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga at Bridge Pa on Valentine’s Day.

“Tuna are a taonga, or a treasured species. The loss of so many eels across the region is a big blow for both tangata whenua and native freshwater biodiversity in Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay,” Chris Wootton, DOC Senior Community Ranger says.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of why water levels have dropped so low and so quickly. People have described how it’s just like the bath plug has been pulled out and all the water has gone from these stream or river systems.”

DOC would like to work with tangata whenua and other agencies to understand the cause of the problem and prevent this from happening in the future.

“We want to understand the scale of the issue, so if anyone from the public sees eels stranded or dead in a drying waterway, please call our local office.”

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