Police are hunting vandals who poisoned dozens of rare and exotic fish at a marine centre yesterday.
Horrified staff at the Island Bay Marine Education Centre in Wellington arrived to find around 80 fish dead or dying after a toxic detergent was deliberately added to the water system.
Discovery programme manager Julian Hodge said: "We're devastated because we've been caring for some of the animals for nearly the entire 17 years we've been open to the public." Among the dead were pipefish. The larger animals, including seahorses and king crabs, survived after being transferred to another tank.
A clean-up operation was underway yesterday, with the Fire Service using fire hoses to pump clean seawater through the system.
Volunteers and marine biologists helped with the clean-up.
A huge anchor was also stolen from the front of the marine reserve.
The marine centre is home to dozens of animals with live exhibits and displays of local marine life.
Anyone with information is asked to call Wellington police.