Short-tailed stingray Eagle ray Common sole Yellowbelly flounder Fur Seal
Other Names: Whai (Dasyatis thetidis)
Habitat: Sandy or muddy areas such as harbours, estuaries and bays. Also seen on reefs, groups congregate in archways.
Identification: Dark grey or black above with a row of white spots along wings. White underneath. Tail the same length, or shorter than, the body. Average size 50-100 cm, maximum 200 cm.
General: Eat shellfish and crabs excavated by jetting water through gills onto muddy bottom. Leaves steep sided holes about 20 cm across. Tail spines used for defence only, and they are not aggressive towards divers. They can only swim forward, so allow room for them to escape if they panic and run. They bear live young.
Rex's Sighting: Off Rocky Bay at Titahi Bay - apparently rays are reasonably common on this coast. A 150 mm long baby at Point Jerningham in Wellington Harbour. A pale grey ray in Island Bay (April 1998). A classic slaty grey with white spots at Princess Bay in 15 metres (April 1998).
Other Names: Whai keo. (Myliobatis tenuicaudatus)
Habitat: Sandy or muddy areas such as harbours, estuaries and bays. Also seen on reefs, groups congregate in shallow bays in summer.
Identification: Wings pointed and head distinct. Olive green, yellow or brown above with pale grey or blue markings on back. White underneath. Length to 200 cm.
General: As for Short-tailed stingray.
Rex's Sighting: A family of at least three at the Pohutukawas. Two at Whitireia Point.
Other Names: Sole, English sole, New Zealand sole. (Peltorhamphus novaezelandiae)
Habitat: Inshore sandy areas out to 120 meters. Taken in beach seines or by spear.
Identification: Broadly rounded snout with a fleshy overhang obscuring the mouth. Has a long first pectoral fin ray. Its eyes are on its right side. Average length 25-35 cm, maximum 45 cm.
General: Feeds on a variety of small animals living in sediment.
Other Names: Patiki (Rhombosolea leporina)
Habitat: Sandy or muddy areas such as harbours, estuaries and bays. Often seen where fresh water has reduced salinity.
Identification: Green upper surface, oval shape and rather plump body. Average length 25-35 cm, maximum 45 cm.
General: Food is much the same as for other flatfishes, but because of its habitat more mud worms are taken.
Other Names: New Zealand Fur Seal, Arctocephalus forsteri
Habitat: Rocky coastlines. Colonies around the Wellington Coast. Commonly at Sinclair Head. The seal in the picture is from a colony at Tora on the east coast.
General: The NZ fur seal is indigenous to this country, with small breeding colonies in the South Island and larger breeding colonies in the Chathams, the Snares and the Auckland Islands. It grows to a length of about 2 metres. Seals come in different moods, varying from playful to cranky. If you meet one underwater, don't panic, just assess its mood. If it is telling you that you are in the wrong part of the sea, take the hint.
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