Bay of Islands ocean survey enters next phase
Inshore and onshore biodiversity sampling activity is about to commence in the Bay of Islands as the Bay of Islands Ocean Survey 20/20 project enters its next phase.
Project leader Mark Morrison of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said research vessels and dive and shore sampling teams will be regular sights in the bay over the next five to six weeks.
This work involves a range of vessels, from smaller day craft, up to the 28 m long research vessel RV Kaharoa. Deployments will occur through the months of August and early September in particular, during both the day and night.
"Particular things for local communities to be aware of are the use of special research trawls of the local fish assemblages from Kaharoa, scheduled for the outer Bay of Islands and along the open coast in the first half of August," Dr Morrison said.
A later deployment of night-time underwater video and still camera systems is scheduled for the end of August and early September.
"These deployments will also be from the Kaharoa, but done throughout the night (7 pm to 7 am) when fish are asleep on the seafloor and able to be counted and measured."
"This work will include the inner Bay of Islands, including close to the shore and around the various islands, and will be obvious to local communities."
Sampling will also be undertaken along the East Northland coastline from the Poor Knight Islands to Tom Bowling Bay/North Cape, at water depths of 50–200 metres. This work will complement the extensive deepwater sampling carried out by the RV Tangaroa over the past few weeks.
A broad range of projects are encompassed by the sampling programme on both the biology and ecology of the region, and the threats to these values through mechanisms such as increased sedimentation, nutrient run-off, and human uses of the marine ecosystem.
Themes to be covered include estimating sedimentation rates through coring and seismic surveys of sediment thickness, bacteria, sediment composition and chemistry, invertebrates both on soft sediments and rocky reef systems, algal assemblages including kelp forests, and fish populations and assemblages.
Work will also be focused on the water column in the Bay of Islands, including water clarity levels, nutrients, bacteria, and the development of a tidal circulation model through the deployment of oceanographic moorings, and ship-based measurements.
The comprehensive baseline data being gathered will be of significant value to regional and local authorities, government agencies and the general public when coastal management decisions are being made.
The project is coordinated by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), and is being carried out in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries, with input from local stakeholders including the Northland Regional and Far North District councils, tangata whenua and Bay of Islands Maritime Park Inc.
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