In the “Protecting our seas DVD

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What you’ll see

An aerial view of the steep-sided Poor Knights Islands moves down to the waterline and below showing spectacular rock caverns and archways. The on-screen message “The Poor Knights Islands were rated by diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau as one of the top ten dive sites in the world” appears over shots of schools of fish amongst dramatic underwater topography.

Small pilot whales, sunfish, dolphins and a majestic manta ray are seen in the open waters around the islands followed by a range of inshore sub-tropical and temperate species. A diver swims through an archway gives way to a large aggregation of stingray in a similarly spectacular archway. A carpet shark then cruises over a reef.

Shots of snapper and trevally represent their recovery within the reserve. Black coral trees, garden eels protruding from the sand, hapuku and the sleek bronze whaler shark represent rarer species in the reserve. The clip ends as a diver swims alongside rock walls encrusted with beautiful and fragile invertebrate life.

What you’ll learn

The volcanic offshore islands of the Poor Knights, were rated as one of the world’s top 10 dive sites by diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau. After years of partial protection, the Poor Knights were fully protected in a Marine Reserve in 1998. Since then, fish numbers have dramatically increased; this is particularly evident for snapper and trevally.

In summer the Poor Knights are influenced by the sub-tropical East Auckland Current which carries with it sub-tropical species, such as striped boarfish and gold-ribbon grouper, rarely seen elsewhere in New Zealand. Oceanic visitors include sunfish, dolphins, whales, bronze whaler sharks and even manta rays. Stingrays periodically aggregate at the Poor Knights creating a spectacular site for divers.

The numerous underwater caverns and archways of the Poor Knights are home to a huge diversity of marine life. Divers need to be careful not to damage fragile invertebrates that decorate their steep rock walls. A careless fin brush could destroy an entire community and decades of growth.

Species found in the deep clear waters of the Poor Knights, but rarely seen at diveable depths elsewhere, include black coral, garden eels and hapuku.

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