A Queensland grouper was spotted swimming at Northland’s Deep Water Cove, more than 3000 kilometres from its Aussie home.
Niwa principal scientist Dr Malcolm Francis expected the Queensland grouper might have been carried along the warm water current running across the Tasman Sea from Australia, via Norfolk Island, and down the East Coast of New Zealand.
It was “pretty rare” to see Queensland grouper in New Zealand, he said.
A marine heatwave started in November, sending summer sea surface temperatures soaring to as much as six degrees Celsius above average in the Tasman Ocean.
The Queensland grouper was protected in 2010. As the biggest reef fish in the world, a Queensland grouper could grow up to three metres long and weigh up to 600 kilograms.