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Unique Deepsea Habitats To Be Explored

Unique Deepsea Habitats To Be Explored

New animal species, some never seen before, are expected to be discovered by a joint New Zealand-Australia research survey which will explore deepsea habitats in the Tasman Sea.

The NORFANZ research survey will explore deepsea habitats, including seamounts, from northern New Zealand to Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. It will take four weeks, from 10 May to 8 June.

The survey, which is jointly funded by New Zealand and Australia, has attracted international interest. New Zealand’s Ministry of Fisheries and Australia’s National Oceans Office have each committed half a million dollars, and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are providing scientific support.

The main aim is to provide information on the composition, nature, and potential vulnerability of these unique and unexplored habitats. The results will give scientists a much better understanding of the species living on the deep seamounts and ridges throughout the Tasman Sea. This information will then be used to help protect and manage these ecosystems.

The NORFANZ survey will use NIWA’s deepsea research vessel Tangaroa to photograph and video the seafloor at depths between 200 and 1200 metres and to collect samples and specimens. The survey will also examine the life in the water above and around these seamounts.

2. A total of 24 scientists from more than 11 research organisations around the world will be represented on Tangaroa. They include staff of: New Zealand: The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Australia: Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Programme (CSIRO) Museum Victoria Australian Museum Queensland Museum Northern Territory Museum NSW State Fisheries New Caledonia: Institute de Recherche pour le Dévelopement, Noumea France: Natural History Museum, Paris USA: California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

ENDS

Note to Editors This voyage will provide interesting visual and scientific material, and as much information as possible will be posted daily on the NORFANZ website http:// http://www.oceans.gov.au/norfanz. The Ministry of Fisheries is happy to work with you to arrange discussion about the NORFANZ expedition prior to its departure, and to arrange contact during or after the voyage.

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