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Eel Sampling Reveals Liver Abnormalities

14 May 2012, at 1:00am

NEW ZEALAND - A team of environmental specialists are on the case to discover why more than a dozen eels were found dead in a Gisborne stream.

Environmental scientist Ian Ruru is not satisfied with Gisborne District Councils inconclusive test results and has pulled together his own team of volunteers to monitor the Awapuni catchment, reports GisborneHerald.

The eels some more than a metre long were found floating in a ditch near the Awapuni Road-McDonald Road intersection in March.

Mr Ruru said Gisborne District Councils full investigation into the eel deaths was as useful as treating acute appendicitis with a bandaid.

It was futile and costly to test water samples from the area up to two weeks or 28 tides after the eels had died and second, the dead eels themselves should have been tested, he said.

Mr Ruru said the teams first decent look into the Awapuni environment had revealed some shocking results.

We weighed and measured 238 eels from 32 different sites, from the Gisborne airport out to the Waipaoa River mouth. The majority of the eels we sub-sampled had livers that were discoloured and abnormal.

Mr Ruru said the eels were excellent biological indicators for environmental health and finding so many with liver abnormalities suggested a wider environmental problem.

The liver is a vital organ that purifies the blood and is crucial for survival.

Mr Ruru said while it was too early to point the finger at the source of the problem, there were a number of unique features in the Awapuni catchment not found in other parts of the region.

Although initially frustrated with the councils limited testing regime, I am hopeful we can design a comprehensive Awapuni environmental monitoring programme.

Mr Ruru said this would need the co-operative efforts of landowners, consent holders and the council.

Mr Ruru said he and his team had met with stoic environmentalist Alan Sisterson and were preparing with his support to conduct an eel survey and research in his Matawhero property area before he passed away this month.

He welcomed the survey but passed away before the research was completed. We are saddened that he is no longer with us on our environmental quest for answers. said Mr Ruru.

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