Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Rare fish and new seafloor habitats found during NIWA survey

Rare fish and new seafloor habitats found during NIWA survey

NIWA scientists surveying shallow water coastal habitats off the east coast of Northland have found a rich diversity of macroalgal meadows, shellfish beds, sponges, and rare fish species, including a frogfish and possibly a new species of seahorse.

The survey was conducted using a small beam trawl research net with GoPro cameras attached, as well as dropped stationary cameras both with and without bait to attract fish.

Its goal was to discover what types of habitats were present and where they occurred; and what juvenile and small fish were associated with them. The information gathered will ultimately help inform fishery and ecosystem management decisions.

NIWA marine ecologist Dr Meredith Lowe says the resulting information helps to fill in gaps in scientific knowledge about biogenic habitats in particular – "living" habitats created by plants and animals - and their small fish inhabitants, such as juvenile snapper. The survey results are helping to build a national fish-habitat classification and inventory of New Zealand’s coastal and shelf zone.

“Our knowledge of what lives in the coastal zone is scant. For instance, while we believe estuaries provide critical nurseries for a range of fish species, we cannot prove that until we know their relative contributions compared to possible alternative coastal nursery areas. During our survey, ‘new’ snapper nurseries and associated habitats were found in Te Rawhiti Strait, Bay of Islands, and in inner Doubtless Bay. We can now combine these data with previously collected estuary data to estimate what the relative nursery values are.

“We also know this coastal region is one of the most species diverse nationally, and this work has shown that this rich diversity also extends to seafloor habitat types, and the fish species which live in them. As an additional bonus, a number of new species of red algae were also discovered."


Frogfish

The use of GoPro cameras is a new science technology development for the team, developed from NIWA technician Crispin Middleton’s strong interests in underwater photography (having won several underwater photography competitions). Video from the cameras revealed some surprises, with a juvenile white shark bumping into the camera bait pot as it swam past, and a group of dolphins talking to each other as they checked out the sampling net down on the seafloor under tow.

The seahorse is undergoing scientific identification to assess whether it is a new species.

Dr Lowe says it will be some time before scientists can confirm its identity and how rare it is worldwide. It is about 3 cm long and predominantly brown in colour.

Meanwhile, the Ministry for Primary Industries has just released a report that reviews existing knowledge about fisheries species and their linkages to biogenic habitats.

It is hoped the review, written by NIWA [available at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-resources/publications], will help act as a catalyst for future management initiatives which include the role of these habitats and take into account how they are affected by human activity on land and at sea.

“Biogenic habitats are important, but have largely been ignored in the past. There are still huge knowledge gaps but this gives us the fundamental framework to go forward,” Dr Lowe says.

“As living habitats, they are vulnerable to being damaged. Anything that reduces or eliminates these habitats will produce a cascade through the system, and may ultimately negatively impact the number of fish growing to adulthood, and hence fisheries production.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Trade Agreements: TPP Minus US Starting To Gain Ground

The Japanese government is picking up the pace on reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment deal, with talks scheduled next month among the 11 countries left in the pact after the withdrawal by the US after the election of president Donald Trump. More>>

ALSO:

PACER:

Prices Up 2.2%: Annual Inflation Highest In Over Five Years

"Rising petrol prices along with the annual rise in cigarette and tobacco tax lifted inflation," prices senior manager Jason Attewell said. "Petrol prices in New Zealand are closely linked to global oil prices, and cigarettes and tobacco taxes rise in the March quarter each year". More>>

ALSO:

Undertaxed? NZ Income Tax Rate Second Lowest Among Developed Nations

New Zealand workers pay the second smallest portion of their income to the government among developed nations and less than half the average ratio of their Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development peers. More>>

ALSO:

Cyclone Cook: Round Up Of This Week’s Weather

One of the significant impacts this week was flooding due to excessive rainfall amounts. Rainfall amounts topped out at 350mm over the past 60 hours in parts of northwest Nelson, with 200mm+ measurements recorded about Coromandel Peninsula, and between 150-200mm in the Kaimai Ranges. Rainfall amounts of between 30-50mm were commonplace elsewhere. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier: Batten Down The Hatches For Cyclone Cook

Although fast-moving, Cyclone Cook will be destructive and MetService Expert Meteorologists have issued Severe Wind Warnings for the whole of the North Island apart from Northland... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news