Scientists probe the depths of Taputeranga Marine Reserve
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionScientists have a better understanding of what lies beneath the waters of Wellington’s Taputeranga Marine Reserve after undertaking an underwater survey during summer.
Date: 11 May 2010 Source: Department of Conservation and Victoria University’s Centre for Marine Environmental and Economic Research
Scientists have a better understanding of what lies beneath the waters of Wellington’s Taputeranga Marine Reserve after undertaking an underwater survey during summer.
Department of Conservation divers collaborated with Victoria University’s Centre for Marine Environmental and Economic Research (CMEER) scientists to sample the biological diversity of the reserve, established in 2008.
Diver John Adams measures paua (on
rock in foreground) in the Taputeranga
While it is too soon to observe any significant changes, the data collected by the divers will be used to measure future changes.
“We would typically expect to see a measureable increase in species abundance after about three to five years,” DOC biodiversity programme manager Brent Tandy said.
“The data collected this summer, along with that gathered by CMEER in the 10 years prior to the reserve’s establishment, will be analysed and compared with future results, enabling us to determine how well the reserve is working.”
While the divers did not encounter as many animals as they would expect to find in an established reserve, they saw some impressive specimens, including some large blue cod and paua, DOC marine scientific officer Debbie Freeman said.
“We were fortunate enough to carry out the monitoring when the water was very clear on the south coast, so we had underwater visibility of up to 20 metres at some sites. That and the diversity of marine life made the monitoring work enjoyable and absolutely fascinating.”
Dr Freeman said the dive team enjoyed the opportunity to compare a new reserve with older reserves, such as the 13-year-old Te Angiangi reserve in the Hawke’s Bay, which was also monitored recently.
“We've all been involved in monitoring much older New Zealand marine reserves, and it's great to be able to see the state of marine life in a newly-established reserve. It's exciting to think about how life in the Taputeranga Marine Reserve will look in 20 or 30 years time.”
“By then this reserve will be like a window into the past, when there were fewer human pressures and marine life was richer,” said DOC survey lead Helen Kettles.
“We have developed a long-term monitoring plan for the reserve and are looking forward to working with the University and community on this.”
Children from Houghton Valley School
hard at work monitoring in the reserve
Local school children leant a helping hand with the monitoring, as part of the Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) Programme. EMR is a hands-on programme where students snorkel in unprotected sites and marine reserves and compare their observations.
Students from Houghton Valley and Island Bay schools undertook sub-tidal monitoring, which involved counting fish along 25-metre sampling lines and recording the data.
Over time the students will process the data and observe changes within the reserve. Their methodology interlocks with the deeper water research being carried out by DOC and CMEER. It is hoped that by involving the students in the monitoring a long-term connection will form between the schools and their local marine reserve.
Results from the baseline biological monitoring will be available once all the data has been analysed, later in the year. ENDS