Wellington Scoop

Eagle rays in the lagoon – why not a waterfront marine park to protect them

Rays in Frant Kitts lagoon
by Stephen Journeé
Not many people know that, during the summer months, Eagle Rays frequent the lagoon at Frank Kitts Park. As many as 10 can be seen on sunny days, either sunning themselves in the shallows or lazily swimming around. I think they are a bit of an unknown feature as not even people in the scuba diving community know of their existence.

Going hand in hand with the rubbish removal work, the ecology restoration project and the city council’s Living City programme, I suggest this is a good time to talk about the potential of a Wellington Waterfront Marine Park, encompassing Frank Kitts and the newly installed diving platform.

A marine park would be useful for protecting these beautiful creatures (at least one was caught last year, as its wing-less body washed up on Oriental Beach beach around late January), and perhaps understanding why they come here and where they go during winter, as well as enhancing the area in general.

As I am sure you are aware, during summer the place goes off with the eateries, water sports and marine life. The area is looking cleaner than ever before and the ecology restoration is going very well.

I believe a listed marine park along with the ecology viewing area would enhance the waterfront and be a further boost to community engagement and tourism of the area. I would love to hear your thoughts.


Eagle rays are just one of the species that are in our harbour. People may have seen the Moon Jelly fish that have been around for the last few months, as well as Sting Rays, Moki, Sweep and just the other day a shark. There is a lot of inveterate life as well. The photo above shows a nudibranch (sea slug) and there are also sea cucumbers, anemones, and crabs. The harbour is teeming with life. So just remember that when you see the rubbish floating round or the sheen of an oily liquid, ask yourself: would you treat your friends’ homes like that?

Stephen Journee is one of The Dive Guys, who specialise in diving, snorkelling and training, and who have been working with Wellington Waterfront Ltd for about 3 years removing rubbish from the harbour. The Dive Guys also run yearly clean ups to educate the public about what’s in the harbour.


  1. Trish, 10. January 2013, 22:05

    Sadly, because so many people love catching and killing fish, your suggestion of a marine park in the heart of the city is never going to be accepted. But how gross would it be for someone to hook one of those beautiful rays and club it to death in front of the diners and tourists.
    Personally, I usually find myself on the side of the fish.
    Thanks for raising our awareness of what we have on our doorstep. Any chance of offering snorkels for hire? Seeing life from below the surface totally changes people’s perception, compared to what they think while holding a fishing line or sitting behind a desk making policy.

  2. Steve Journee, 15. January 2013, 9:22

    Hi Trish
    All the more reason to work hard on making it accepted.

    As for the snorkeling, the whole reason for this project and the current ecology reclamation project is to provide an educational tool as well as a marine conservation one…so yes in time their will be snorkeling.