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Whitebait

Fast Facts
  • Whitebait are babies! They are juveniles of five species of fish called migratory galaxids. (so called because of the patterns of their skin which look like a galaxy of stars).
     

  • These five include the three endemic species found only in new Zealand:
    Shortjaw kōkopu (currently threatened), Banded kōkopu, Giant kōkopu (declining) and the Kōaro (declining) and Inanga (declining).

  • The adults are generally nocturnal and live in bushy streams to hide and live off the vegetation.
     

  • They spawn in streamside vegetation in autumn and wait for a flood to hatch and be carried downstream. Inanga move down to estuaries to spawn and hatch on a spring tide.
     

  • The larvae float to sea, live and grow over winter then migrate back upstream into freshwater in spring.
     

  • New Zealander's often enjoy whitebait fritters, but with these species declining it might be time to turn to sustainable alternatives!

Whitebait Fritter by Shellie @Flickr

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