Readers’ wildlife photos

March 2, 2017 • 7:30 am

Stephen Barnard is still fishing and traveling in New Zealand (sadly, our visits won’t overlap). He’s now moved to the North Island, and sent back a photo and a movie of the aquatic inhabitants.

Had an excellent  first day fishing in North Island — caught about a dozen rainbow trout  (Oncorhynchus mykiss) this size, and lost a few more.


And a video he took:

New Zealand longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii), also known by the sushi name unagi, one of my favorites.

And while we’re Down Under, reader Tony Eales from Queensland sent some photos of a native species—an aberrant fowl that’s the only species in the bird family Anseranatidae.

Magpie Geese (Anseranas semipalmata) are really cool. Aboriginal people from the top end of Australia love to eat them. I was once driving with a co-worker who had only recently for the first time moved to east coast from a remote northern territory community, and he was genuinely appalled at our driving past Magpie Geese colonies at roadside rest-stop ponds that were unmolested and uneaten.

They sit outside the main group of ducks, geese and swans in a monotypic family Anseranatidae, having split off before the K-PG extinction event. [JAC: This is the Cretaceous-Paleogene event that occurred about 66 million years ago. It was formerly known as the Tertiary-Cretaceous event—the one that supposedly led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.]. They are slowly moving back into their near continent-wide range after being much reduced in south and central Australia through over-hunting and habitat loss. As a child I knew them only from documentaries about the wild tropical north and still remember the shock of seeing my first Magpie Geese near my home city of Brisbane. Now they’re quite common wherever there’s permanent freshwater.






23 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I saw one of those longfin eels on my NZ trip in a stream leading into a glow worm cave. The guide waved his hand on the water and the eel came right over to check it out. He stroked the eel’s body, which it seemed to like. It appears the eel lives there and has gotten to know the guides often have food to offer.

    1. A lot of places have pet eels now, but they give me the creeps.

      My mother tells stories of her legs getting tangled in eels when she and her siblings went swimming in the creek on their farm as kids. By the time we went swimming in the same creek they’d largely gone, though we still used to go eeling with gaffes, and traps could still catch a few.

      I think they taste disgusting, but I think we sell a lot to Japan for use in sushi. I don’t much like the taste of trout either, especially rainbow trout, though it’s much better than eel.

      It was made public yesterday that Matt Lauer recently bought thousands of hectares of farmland in the South Island so he could more easily indulge his passion for fly fishing. Apparently Oprah Winfrey and Reece Witherspoon have already been guests.

        1. It’s probably quite nice, as long as you don’t know what it is. Well, that’s how I’d feel anyway.

  2. What an interesting bird. Thanks for sharing the background information.

    Stephen, is it strictly catch & release for trout in New Zealand?

    1. No. You’re allowed to keep a certain number. You have to have a fishing licence, and you have to fly fish (no bait allowed for trout) but you can usually keep some. The number varies by location and is not allowed in some locations. You also can’t fish in breeding locations in breeding season.

      Licences are easy to buy and not expensive. The country store closest to where you want to fish usually sells licences. There are a limited number of licences available, but the number available is adequate for the demand. Afaik there’s no problem with forgery. There are fisheries officers that police the popular spots.

      Most people are pretty good at sticking to the rules because they don’t want to ruin the fishery by over-fishing. It’s also a big earner for tourism so it would be biting the hand that feeds you to break the rules.

      1. Thank you Heather.

        Sounds very sensible, and similar to here in the US. I used to fish a lot in the late ’80s to early ’90s, salt water. Mostly in intercoastal waterways, off the beach or at inlets. I recall that the fishing became really hard, meaning we didn’t usually catch much.

        Since that time regulations have been instituted and or better enforced and many fish stocks seem to have rebounded very well. The few times I have been fishing in recent years I’ve not been able to catch a Snook or a Red small enough to keep!

        My Big Fish story, I once caught a Tarpon that was approximately 60 inches (153 cm) and 85 pounds (38 kg), off land (in other words not on a boat), with 20 pound (8.9 kg) test mono-filament line with a Penn 650ss spinning reel (moderate size). All of which probably means nothing to most people. It took about 1.25 hours. There were times I’d think I was about to see the fish (it was night) then it would turn and run until I could see the metal of the spool through the remaining line on the reel and I’d have to start all over again.

        1. Wow! What a mission! Sounds like fun. It’s good the stocks are being well managed now.

          I grew up in a small coastal city, so fishing was something we did as kids. In my late teens/early twenties I had a boyfriend who was really into fishing from the beach, rocks, and boat, and I enjoyed it too.

          Now I have a brother into fly fishing and brothers-in-law who sea fish – one from the beach or rocks and the other from a boat. So I hear a few fishy tales!

    1. @J Cook they are partially webbed. Look at the right foot of the goose in the bottom picture.

  3. One small criticism.
    And a query.
    I find it a little disturbing that people hold up dead fish to show of there killing prowess.

    We don’t see pictures of dead lambs or pigs or cow carcass’s held up for show
    Or how about showing a nice, dead, duck that was just blown out of the sky.

    Does anyone else find this peculiar.

    1. Obviously, you’re not a fisherman and know nothing about the culture of sport fishing. Regardless of what you think about the culture, sport fisher folks (women also like to fish)are possibly the strongest advocates for the conservation of fishery resources going. Without us, these resources would most likely be raped by those who care nothing about that resource. The licenses we buy support the wardens who catch the poachers that would otherwise destroy the resource. That money also supports the environments in which these fisheries exist. The money pays the salaries of the biologists (many of whom like to fish themselves) who care for and maintain these fisheries. General tax dollars are usually insufficient in themselves to accomplish what the license fees pay for. Sport fishers don’t sell our fish and many of us practice catch and release as well. What do you do to support the resource that is comparable to what sport fisher folk do?

      1. These comments are obviously addressed to Mr. Waterhouse. Stephen Barnard obviously knows what I’m talking about.

  4. I think it’s sad that a person, upon seeing a flock of a beautiful, unique wild bird, feels dismay at the fact that they have not yet all been eaten. Such is mankind!
    It DOES remind me of a story, however: a man was lost in the Northwest woods for several weeks; when he was finally found, half-starved, he confessed to his rescuers that the only thing that kept him alive was that he managed to kill and eat several half-grown Bald Eagle chicks. Of course, this was a Federal crime and so, a few months later, he found himself in a Federal courtroom, facing charges. After the judge heard the “extenuating circumstances of the case he dropped the charges, saying that it was a simple matter of personal survival. Upon leaving the courtroom, the man was approached by a reporter, who said, “You’ve had an AMAZING experience; not many people have ever eaten a Bald Eagle: just for the sake of the curiosity of my readers, could you describe to me what it TASTED like?” The man thought for a moment and said, “Well- it was kinda halfway between California Condor, and Spotted Owl.”

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