Staff Profile: Cindy Baker

Dr Cindy Baker with a lamprey (piharau/kanakana). 
What is your area of specialty/role at NIWA?

I am a Principal Scientist of freshwater fish. I specialise in fish ecology, particularly lamprey (kanakana/piharau) and whitebait species, and the use of pheromones/semio-chemicals for population monitoring, enhancement and control. I have a particular interest in the design of fish passage solutions for low and high head migration barriers and using biotelemetry for understanding ecological processes. I also have expertise in assessments of ecological effects for resource consents, particularly relating to ecological effects arising from electricity generation, wastewater discharge, and protection of aquatic biota at water intake structures.

What made you made you want to become a freshwater fish scientist?

I have always loved animals and after a fish physiology lecture at university I was fascinated by how sensory systems work and especially the lateral line in fish. That path led me to freshwater fish sensory biology and whilst at NIWA, the wider ecology of fish. In reality, fish are just so cute why would you work on anything else?

What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve done in your career so far?

Locating the first spawning site for a Southern Hemisphere lamprey species was a very special moment for me, along with discovering a new lamprey species in Argentina. I also find commercial work very rewarding and am proud of the fish collection buckets and return system I helped design for Genesis Energy, installed on the intake screens at Huntly Power Station. These fish protection measures have increased the survival of impinged smelt from 5% to over 60%. Given smelt are the most fragile fish in New Zealand and they die from looking at them in a bucket, that was a pretty amazing result!

What do you like to do outside of your work at NIWA?

Mostly spending time with my husband. We both love wakeboarding and taking our friends and family out in the boat on the lake. We also enjoy watching movies, walks and cuddling our fur baby Keikan.


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Principal Scientist - Freshwater Fish