New Zealand Rocky Shore
Rocky shores are unique and special marine habitats. They support a huge diversity of life; examples of almost every animal group can be found here.
Life on the rocky shore is not easy; with the rise and fall of the tide the animals and plants are exposed to the air, and then covered by water again. Each time the tide goes out it leaves behind a layer of food on the rocks. On its return, the sea is rich with millions of tiny plants and animals (plankton) feeding the larger animals of the rocky shore.
Salinity, water, wave action, competition and predation are all factors affecting survival chances on the rocky shore. All exhibits in our rocky shore come from Hawke Bay, many donated by professional and recreational fishers. (Hawke Bay is the marine area; Hawke’s Bay is the land.)
These have nerve fibres, which co-ordinate contractions of their muscles but they have no brain or nerve cords. Sea Anemone
eat solid food and can walk slowly on the foot
of the stem that anchors them securely to a rock.
, also known as sea eggs
, are a popular food of Maori people. Among its long, brittle spines are blood red, flexible tube feet that are used to grip the surface.
pools along our coasts.
Size: up to 50cm
Like most starfish, if the seven armed starfish
loses an arm it has the ability to grow a replacement from the stump. New Zealand’s largest and most voracious starfish. Blueish grey with brilliant orange tube feet.
Size: to about 10 cm
Shaped and coloured like a fancy biscuit. The cushion star
is common on sandy beaches south of Napier.
Paua (Haliotis iris)
Size: up to 28cm
The inside flesh is a delicacy. The shell has a curved row of holes on the outside, the interior is used to make jewellery. Paua
live on rocks but it is illegal to take Paua
of less than 125 mm.
Size: about 15 cm
Common on sandy beaches, the paddle crab
burrows backwards into sand, leaving their eyes protruding. Eats shellfish and pipi.
Hermit Crab (Te Reo: Papaka moke) (Pagurus novizelandiae)
The hermit crab
will inhabit an empty spiral shell as a temporary home until it outgrows the shell and seeks a new one.
Crayfish (Te Reo: Koura papatea) (Jasus edwardsii)
Colour varies between red, purple or orange but turns red when cooked for eating. A second species, the Packhorse (Jasus hugelii) is greener in colour and less spiny. Crayfish
are omnivorous and scavengers. Female carries eggs beneath her tail. Larvae are pelagic, floating in the open ocean.
Mussel (Te Reo: Kuku) (Perna canaliculus)
Perna canaliculus is a large greenish mussel
found abundantly in the North Island. In the South Island the common species is the small bluish-black Mytilus aoteanus.