Isleworth School pupils learn about at-risk eels

UP CLOSE LOOK: Pupils at Isleworth School got to see local longfin eels (tuna) up close at Styx Mill Conservation Reserve last week, as part of their work studying the species which is at-risk due to storm-water pollution. PHOTO: Gilbert Wealleans.

Every time we put the brakes on or are cleaning our cars in the driveway, we could be putting pollutants into streams which may affect the wildlife.

That’s what year 5 and 6
Isleworth School pupils are learning through a project called ‘Te Tuna Tāone – Urban Eel’.

Run by the Working Waters Trust and Enviroschools Canterbury, the pupils learnt about longfin eels.

Trust project manager Sophie Allen said the project focuses on helping improve the quality of stormwater and the stream habitats where urban eels live.

Ms Allen said the north-west area of the city would have had a lot of clean springs for the species in the past.

“Now sadly, it is listed as ‘at risk-declining’ by the Department of Conservation species classification system, and our urban eels have pollutants coming into the streams such as pesticides, zinc from unpainted galvanised roofs, and detergents from washing your car on your drive.”

Ms Allen said many people don’t realise the water draining from roofs and roads is going into streams.

The pupils visited the Styx Mill Conservation Reserve last week where Ms Allen said they “squealed in delight” seeing the eels up close.

“The important next step will be for the pupils to choose actions they wish to undertake to help these local longfin eels.”

Some ideas for actions from the pupils include planting native plans along streams, creating artwork around gutters to tell people they drain into streams, and becoming local stormwater pollution detectives.