As luck would have it, we live close to the aforementioned Coastal Ecology Lab and walk past it on our way to the bus stop, so when we spotted a sign advertising Open Day we decided to go there. We`ve seen boats with the lab’s logo around the bay and have always been curious about what is being done there.
The coolest thing there were touch tanks – as you can deduct from the name, you could touch the sea creatures in the tanks, from leathery star fish to squishy sea cucumbers and anemones. We had as much fun as children around us, touching, stroking and sometimes picking creatures up to take a closer look.
There were also lots of display with information about research projects and experiments and you could ask questions to the staff. Also, there were stands with information about poachers and illegal fishing.
We spent the longest by the stand with paua shells. Pāua is the Māori name given to three species of large edible sea snails, known in the United States and Australia as abalone, and in the United Kingdom as ormer shells. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81ua) Paua are important species for commercial, recreational and cultural fishing. Every fish and chip shop sell paua fritters, but paua isnt’ sold in shops.
Paua shells have long been used by Maori to make jewellery, decorate wood carvings and other handicrafts. Things made of paua shells and paua shells themselves are most popular souvenirs to be bought in New Zealand. Yesterday we even saw a bus painted to look like paua!
To fish for paua commercially, you need a license, and you if you are an individual, you can get up to paua per day, but you are not allowed to use diving equipment to protect deep-water colonies of paua and prevent methodical depletion of any one place where paua can be found. There is also a minimum size for paua to be fished – you can use a special ruler, distributed free of charge by the Ministry of Fisheries to determine is the size is right – which helps protect younger paua, allowing them to mature.
A 3D printer
Happy Mike with a hot dog
A funny poster – must be hard for Kiwis not to wear jandals (that’s flip-flops to anyone outside New Zealand)
The lab’s official website http://www.victoria.ac.nz/sbs/research-centres-institutes/vucel