Goat Island Marine Reserve - Leigh
This reserve, near the township of Leigh north of Auckland, is perhaps the most famous of New Zealand’s marine reserves. This may be because it was New Zealand’s first marine reserve, established in 1975. In less than ten years, a virtual marine desert decimated by overfishing became a rich ecological area, teeming with fish and other sea life, free from exploitation. Today the area is also home to the Auckland University Marine Laboratory. Now that fishing has stopped, studies can be made into the way a marine ecosystem functions in its natural state.
The benefits of marine reserves
Significant changes have been observed in this reserve since it's establishment and it is now one of New Zealand's top tourist attractions thanks to the abundance of marine life - much of which is not afraid of divers and snorkellers. A great place to learn about marine life - because there's so much of it!!
Beneath the waves is a variety of habitats, from rocky shores exposed at low tide, to deep reefs, underwater cliffs, canyons and sandflats. Each habitat harbours its own creatures from seaweed forests in the pulsating light zone, to deeper waters where clinging animals like sea squirts, anemones, sponges and shellfish are found. In deeper water, divers should be careful not to break off small fragile animals such as gorgonian fans, lace corals and sponges - some of these are hundreds of years old.
You'll find brilliant underwater photography of this reserve in the MarineNZ image gallery.
Find out more on the DoC website, or check out the following link(s):