Otago Acclimatization Society.
This society, which was founded in January, 1864, devotedits efforts for some years to procuring English insectivorous and song birds, wherein great success was attained. But in 1868 it sent its manager, Mr. Clifford, to Tasmania, who got from the Salmon Commissioners there, 800 ova of the trout (Salmo fario) asmentioned in my paper on Brown Trout, read before this Institute in July, 1878.* A subsequent lot of 1000 was obtained in the following year from the same source, and both were very successfully hatched at the society's ponds at Opoho, by or under the immediate care of Mr. Clifford; 720 of the former, and nearly all the latter, being hatched out. In July, 1870, Mr. Clifford brought from Tasmaniar fully 1000 ova of brown trout, and 140 ova of the sea-trout, and successfully hatched out at the society's ponds every ovum. No such feat had ever before been achieved in fish-culture, so far as I have read or seen. These young trout formed the original stock, from which most of the streams in Otago may now be said to be stocked in measure.* I should, however, mention here that a previous lot of 400 ova brought from Tasmania for the Otago society, in September, 1867, by Mr. Johnson, Curator to the Canterbury Acclimatization Society, proved to be all dead on arrival in Dunedin. The original trout ova from England, brought successfully to Tasmania, were obtained from the river Weycombe, Buckinghamshire, and the Wey and Itchen, Hampshire. Our brown trout are descendants of these, but I have not been able to trace the identity further, nor to find out more than that all the ova from the above three English streams did not hatch out equally well in Tasmania.
[Footnote] * For a list of streams in which brown trout have been put, see paper “On Brown Trout in Otago,““Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xi., p. 208. But nearly every river and stream has received some.
Since 1868, and up to the end of 1880 the society has distributed about 110,390 trout ova to different provinces in the North and South Islands of New Zealand. For the season of 1880 just past, there were 57,500 thus disposed of. The method of packing these, recently and successfully carried out by Mr. Deans, has been in small deal boxes about 15 inches square by 6 inches deep. A good layer of soft damp moss is laid on the bottom, which carries a layer of eggs or ova of the trout, with gauze above and below. On the top of these eggs another layer of wet moss is carefully spread, then another layer of eggs, and so on, the top being well protected by moss, also the sides of the box. Not more than three layers of eggs are at any time put into one box, as it has been found, or is believed, that too much pressure is injurious and often fatal. A top of deal is then screwed on, having a hole in it, there being one or two also in the bottom. Two or more boxes of ova thus packed are then secured inside of a larger box or case. They rest on sawdust, and the spaces—two to three inches—left clear at the sides are also filled with sawdust, a bag containing the same non-conductor of heat being spread out flat on the top of the ova boxes. Next the lid of the larger box or case is screwed down—which also with the bottom of this box has several holes for the passage of water. Of cold fresh water a couple of pints daily, during the transit of the ova, are poured through the hole in the cover to keep the moss wet and cold. We have found the ova has carried thus for a week or eight days successfully to places as far off as Napier and Auckland. But during this last season ice has been used, a sufficient quantity being packed on top of the ova boxes. The result has been eminently good, not five per cent. of the ova having gone bad. I may add that our system is just a modification of the American plan, and as I think an improvement on it. The Americans use scrim or gauze to separate each layer from the moss, and pack six or seven layers thus with moss between, one on top of the other. This causes too much weight to come on the lower tiers of eggs, and consequently losses are increased.
Of young trout distributed throughout Otago during the same period, I find from the society's records that 150,000 have been put into 150 streams, rivers, and lakes; whereof about 40,000 were turned out from January to end of December, 1880. These trout have in the Shag River, Water of Leith, Fulton's Creek, Lee and Deep Streams, Waiwera, Kuriwao, Teviot, and about Lake Wakatipu and Hayes Lake, increased enormously in numbers, and that in the face of losses caused by such enemies as shags, ducks, eels, large trout, bad floods during spawning time, poaching, and so on. In many other waters they have also increased and established themselves, but not to so great an extent as in those above-named. Into the Deep Stream 100, and into the Lee 98 young trout were turned in 1869, and no additions
have been sent to these at any time (till lately, when some were sent to the Lee), yet these rivers are full of trout ! As to the growth of these trout I may give the following facts: in December, 1879, I caught trout in the Oamarama weighing 5lbs. each. I also hooked and played for half-an-hour (in company with Mr. J. A. Connell) a trout which I know must have weighed about 8lbs., but which was lost in netting. Trout were first put into this stream in 1875. One of the young Messrs. Grieves of Rocklands station, in February or March, 1880, caught a trout in the Upper Taieri which weighed 20lbs.; and Mr. John Roberts informs me that his shepherds have seen them 30lbs. weight, and have caught and weighed them a good deal over 20lbs. Trout were first put into this river in 1870. Now supposing the 5lb. and 20lb. fish to be survivors of the original stock in these two rivers, their yearly growth shows an increase at the rate of 1¼ lb. and 2lbs. respectively ! This is a wonderful rate, and shows that at the present time there must be abundant and suitable food in the two streams I have selected for examples. (See specimen of a trout, pl. XII). In my previous paper already alluded to, I stated that I found the rate of growth from 1lb. to 2¾ lbs., according to the stream the specimens were taken from.
Salmo umbla (the charr).—Of this fish 1,000 ova were presented to the Otago society, and arrived in the “Timaru” in April, 1875. Of these, 300 hatched out at the ponds. From a growth on the umbilical bag many died, and of the twelve left at last, the whole lot escaped, and have disappeared in the Opoho Creek.
The English salmon (Salmo salar) was successfully introduced to Otago in 1868, by the Provincial Government. The ova came out in the “Celestial Queen,” having been taken from Tweed and Tay salmon, Severn Salmon, and Irish salmon. Messrs. Youl and Ramsbottom appear to have had most to do in England with the collection and despatch of these ova—numbering 200,000. The ship got to Port Chalmers on 2nd May, 1868, after a very long passage of 107 days; the ova, together with those of sea trout, brown trout, and Salmo umbla (the charr), and some live gudgeon, carp, and tench, with some English oysters, having been put under the charge of Mr. Dawbin. The live fish all died on board, and the ova of the fish just mentioned, excepting those of the salmon, appear all to have died also. (Of the oysters two only survived, and these were given to Mr. Seaton, Portobello, to plant in the bay). The numbers shipped were, sea trout, 1,500 ova; brown trout, 1,500; and Salmo umbla, 6,000. The trout ova were along with those of the Salmo umbla given to the Acclimatization Society to hatch out at Opoho; but, though every care was taken, they all died. The salmon and sea trout ova were sent round by sea to the breeding ponds erected at that time on the Waiwera stream, and all arrived safely. Mr. Dawbin put about 40,000
good salmon ova into the hatching boxes, and the sea trout ova. The result of this experiment is now a matter of history. About 1,500 were reared as far as the smolt stage (specimens of these may now be seen in the Otago Museum), when they became greatly reduced in numbers by escaping into the Waiwera, and by the depredations of shags. At the last the remainder, only 250 in number, were turned out into the river Waiwera by Mr. Dawbin in 1869, and none have ever been seen again, while it is almost certain now that none ever will. Thus ended miserably that large venture in the acclimatizing of the English salmon; and in reviewing the operations, at this distance of time, I am of the same opinion as then, that the Government acted very unwisely in the selection of a tributary of the Molyneux, polluted as the latter was and is by “tailings” from the gold diggings, as the best stream into which to put the young of the salmon. The Aparima, or even the Wyndham, would have been far more likely rivers in which success might have been reckoned on.
Subsequent shipments from England by steamers via Melbourne, were more successful, (although one or two were wholly failures). The ova in these former cases were entrusted to Mr. Howard, of the Wallacetown Salmon Ponds, near Invercargill, an enthusiast, and a well informed man in fish culture, and this important trust was not misplaced. Of the “Oberon” shipment, 96 young English salmon smolts were put into the Aparima, or a pond adjoining it, in 1874. In 1876, of the “Durham” shipment, 1,400 were liberated in the same river; and of that by the “Chimborazo,” 2,500 were growing in the boxes in June, 1878, these being afterwards, I believe, turned out in the same river. The first of the above ova were got from the rivers Severn, Tweed, Tyne, Ribble and Hodder, the second from the Ribble, Hodder, Lune, Severn, and Dart, and the last from the Tyne, Avon, and Lune. I am indebted to Mr. Howard for these particulars. From the printed report of the “Durham” Durham lot, it would appear that the ova packed in Sphagnum moss by Mr. Buckland, arrived in far better condition than those sent in common moss, and which were packed by Mr. Youl. The latter was covered with mould, while the former moss was found to be perfectly clean and free from fungoid growths. For two years past I have occasionally received information from Riverton residents that young salmon had been seen in the estuary of the Aparima. And lately, Mr. Ellis, of Merrivale, made particular enquiries, and assured me there could be no doubt of the fact, for he knew a party who had bought from fishermen young salmon and eaten them ! On the other hand Mr. Howard went specially to Riverton to try and settle the question, and he has kindly written to me that as yet there is in his opinion no proof of the return of salmon to the above river. Under these circumstances, it must
be admitted that we have no certainty of the fish referred to being salmon. At the same time no better river in New Zealand could have been fixed on for salmon “planting,” than the Aparima. There is nothing more to add here but to explain that Mr. Howard's experiments were conducted under directions, first of the Salmon Commissioners, of Southland, and latterly by those of the Colonial Government—the Otago society not having had anything to do in the matter.
Sea trout (S. trutta). Of these, 140 ova were brought from Tasmania, in July, 1870. From these 80 young fish were put into the Shag river by Mr. Young, in 1871. Also Mr. A. C. Begg informs me that some sea trout were put into the Water of Leith, about the same time, by Mr. George Duncan. I have tried to find from what river in England the original ova sent to Tasmania, came, but the secretary to the Salmon Commissioners there, assures me that he cannot now possibly find any record of this fact. This valuable fish has, however, thriven well in Otago Harbour and along, the coast to the north, as specimens from 1 lb. up to 20lbs. have been taken by fishermen, and many are still taken illegally. It is, however, curious that no undoubted sea trout has as yet been caught, or found spawning, in any of our rivers. The number of ova of sea trout brought from Tasmania by Mr. Clifford in July, 1870, was 140, and he succeeded in rearing every one! Of these 134 were sent to Mr. Young on December 22nd, 1870, and put into his pond at Palmerston.
The Californian salmon (Salmo quinnat, or Oncorhynchus quinnat) was first introduced into Otago by the Colonial Government of New Zealand from San Francisco. A box supposed to contain 50,000 ova was presented to the Otago society by the Government, and this got to Port Chalmers on 7th November, 1877, by the s.s. “Taupo.” One lesser box containing the ova was found inclosed in the larger one, surrounded by sawdust, and having a pad of the same on top. Ice had been used to keep the temperature low and the moss wet all the voyage. The ova, in seven layers in the ova-box, lay each between two webs of scrim, supported on moss and covered by the same. The ova on examination were found healthy-looking; only from two to five per cent., I estimate, were actually dead, and these were often found in clusters adhering to the cotton web. The bad eggs were either white or variegated white and red, while the healthy ones had a fine dark pink colour, and were transparent or comparatively so. On opening the boxes I found the temperature of the moss to be 47° Fahr., of the melted ice 40°, of the air 52°. The water in the filter supplying the hatching-boxes stood at 50°, and the water in the troughs or hatching-boxes themselves, reduced by ice, showed the temperature of 48° when the ova were placed in them. The following morning at 6.30 o' clock, I found the air at the hatching-boxes, Opoho, to read 44°, and the water 47° in the boxes.
For the first four days many ova died, but others began to hatch, and this operation was completed in a fortnight. Only 15,000 ova, however, were estimated to be the result, so there could not have been the full number as supposed in the box. Of these, 2,000 were deformed and died, and the 13,000 survivors were put into the Kakanui river in January, 1878, being then very vigorous, and about 2½ inches long each. Nothing has been seen or heard of them since.
The whitefish (Coregonus albus) were brought from San Francisco by the New Zealand Government, and on 21st February, 1878, two boxes were presented to our society, one to be handed to the Oamaru society if applied for. On opening one box at the Opoho ponds we found the ova all dead or hatched out, so the other box was opened to endeavour to save some few ova if not too late. There were many good eggs in this box, out of which we succeeded in hatching about 1,000 young whitefish. The two boxes were supposed to contain 50,000 eggs each, and on being opened I found the temperature of the moss 46° Fahr., of the water flowing from the creek into the hatching-house 54°, and of the water in the hatching-boxes themselves 53°. (See table of temperatures in the Appendix.) The young fish were hatching out as the eggs were being put into the hatching-boxes, and came out in one day or two. On 19th March Mr. Deans started with the young fish for Lake Wanaka, but they all unfortunately died ere he got half way. Probably they were neither old enough nor strong enough to stand the journey. During hatching water varied from 49° to 57°, and when a week old the young fish were fed with blood. In the case of the last shipment sent us in January, 1880, we had the boxes conveyed straight from the Bluff to our hatching-boxes, near Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, on the 19th. The water used was from a cold spring, but no gravel was put in the boxes, which were covered over to exclude light, and an awning formed a roof for the hatching place. The ova were hatching when put into the water, which had a temperature of 48° to 52°, but none lived longer than thirty-six hours. Mr. Deans observed that some of the fish before they died appeared to have fungus, the tails getting quite white in appearance. So great was the mortality that Mr. Deans turned them all out into Lake Wakatipu, part at Beach Bay and part at Half-way Bay, 21st January, 1880, but nothing more has been seen of them. The surface water of the lake had a temperature of about 56°. Dr. Black kindly made an analysis of the water of this spring used at Queenstown, also of Wakatipu and of Opoho water, with this result:—
|Rowell's spring||1.1grs. per gal.|
|Wakatipu||3.1", very soft|
|Opoho||3.6", " "|
|Rowell's||A very little|
|Wakatipu||Scarcely a trace|
|Opoho||A little more than average|
Of other fish, I find that perch, 21 in number out of 24 got from Tasmania in 1868 by Mr. Clifford, survived the voyage, and these were put into the Water Company's reservoir, Dunedin. They have thriven so well that numbers have, during succeeding years, been transferred to various lakes and lagoons, as the Waihola and Wakatipu lakes, and lagoons at Tomahawk, West Taieri, Clutha, Gore, etc. Tench and goldfish were also introduced about this time, and some of these are now in the society's ponds at the Botanic Gardens. The first tench, 18 in number, were put into the Dunedin reservoir in 1868. Mr. Worthington at Queenstown has reared successfully many thousands of young trout during the last few years, and distributed them in various rivers there.