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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Wild Coasts: Exploring Aotearoa’s Marine Reserves


Along Aotearoa’s wild coasts much of the sea life, which was once abundant, is seriously threatened because of overfishing. This is why 44 protected marine reserves have been established.


In Wild Coasts Ned Barraud takes us on a deep dive to view the sea life which inhabits six of these protected areas and is once again thriving.


For each Marine Reserve he has drawn a small map to show where it is located in New Zealand and describes what makes it unique.


He follows this with a beautiful colourful double page illustration of its underwater seascape. For instance, in the Poor Knight’s Islands Marine Reserve, he shows how:


“Beneath the surface exists a complex environment where subtropical and temperate marine life meet. Over 125 species of fish share this area with its soft corals, sponges, vibrant anemones, moray eels, manta rays, gorgonian fans and even the occasional green sea turtle.”


In a further double page spread are his illustrations of individual species labelled with some fascinating facts.


As the Poor Knight’s Islands Marine Reserve has been a Marine Reserve for over 20 years, snorkelers, scuba divers and swimmers can come to marvel at this unique environment.


Some of the other reserves in this book are also easily accessible like Tuputeranga Reserve in Wellington and Goat Island where we once went snorkelling with our family and saw an abundance of snapper. But we did not spot the boarfish who root up bristle worms from the sandy seafloor like a pig digging for food in the soil! Nor did we see the goat fish named for their goatee beards or the leather jacket with its tough leathery skin and a dorsal fin it can lock in place, which Ned Barraud has drawn and described. Maybe if we dived deeper next time?


Ned Barraud is well known for his brilliant realistic wildlife illustrations and has achieved this again in this book which makes it a valuable teaching resource.


It will also heighten children’s awareness of just how vital these reserves are for the preservation of our precious marine life. That we now have 44 marine reserves might sound like a lot, but as Ned Barraud writes, it is less than 1% of New Zealand seas. Scientists say that 30% of our seas need to be safe zones, especially in areas like the Hauraki Gulf, which have been overfished for decades.


Wild Coasts would also be enjoyed by outdoorsy nature living families and might well encourage them to go and see some of these marine reserves for themselves.


Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Potton & Burton

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