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Waikato student studying kaimoana recovery in wake of Rena

21 November 2011

Waikato University student studying kaimoana recovery in wake of Rena

A Waikato University doctoral student is researching the recovery time for kaimoana in the Bay of Plenty following the Rena oil spill.

Julien Huteau, a Coastal Marine Group student, plans to do his PhD on ecology changes in the Tauranga harbour and in the wake of the Rena added a case study to find out when seafood in the Bay of Plenty will be safe to eat again.

A keen diver, with previous experience as a researcher for Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Environment Bay of Plenty, Julien found himself stuck on dry land as 350 tonnes of oil spilled from the Rena and began to wash up on beaches in early October.

“I used to go diving every two days and after Rena it was quite frustrating not being able to go to sea. My research topic comes from the heart, and from wanting to give iwi and people around Tauranga some hope that sea life can recover.

“What I wish to find out is the recovery time for kaimoana and how it will recover following the oil slick around Rena. I’ll be taking samples of kina, algae and fish from places that have been affected by the slick and monitoring how they recover.”

Julien plans to take samples from Motiti, White Island, Astrolabe Reef, Papamoa and Mt Maunganui, and move them to clean water and monitor the length of time it takes for them to recover.

“One of my research targets is the involvement of tangata whenua – they have the knowledge of the area and I am learning every day from them.”

Julien is one of a handful of PhD students conducting research on the Rena disaster at the University of Waikato Coastal Marine Group Tauranga campus.

The Coastal Marine Group was established 25 years ago and has had a key focus on Tauranga harbour since.

Led by the Chair of Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill, the Coastal Marine Group works with regional councils and central government agencies providing a scientific basis for everything from resource management to environmental policy and engineering works.

University of Waikato staff and students continue to work on determining the effect of the oil spill on the coastline and ecology of the Bay of Plenty.


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