Lost scientific buoy recovered from Kāpiti seafloor


Researchers have recovered a scientific buoy from the Kāpiti Marine Reserve that went missing in late March.

On Friday afternoon, the buoy was successfully hauled to the surface in a joint effort by NIWA, DOC and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

NIWA physical oceanographer Dr Joe O’Callaghan describes the recovery as a “huge relief” following several attempts to retrieve the buoy.

After an initial inspection, Dr O’Callaghan believes the buoy was not hit by a vessel.

“We will do some further forensics over the next few weeks but it appears that the depth and swift currents at the Kāpiti location made for challenging conditions for the mooring,” says Dr O’Callaghan.

The buoy named ‘WRIBO-K’ was installed in Kāpiti Marine Reserve in November to provide a range of real time scientific measurements including currents, waves, salinity, water temperature, sediment, wind direction and speed.

Greater Wellington Marine and Freshwater team leader, Dr Evan Harrison says data collected by the buoy provides valuable insights into the way activities on land affects ocean water quality.

“The buoy is a vital component for Greater Wellington’s Coastal Monitoring Programme that focuses on the causes of environmental impacts and identifies the success of ongoing restorative projects. 

“Everyone is happy to have the buoy back in our sights so we can get it back in the water as soon as possible, doing what it does best,” says Dr Harrison.

The buoy and instruments attached to it will be evaluated in the next few weeks to determine what can be repaired and what may need to be replaced.