Find out more about some of our ocean-related work.

NIWA is leading a New Zealand partnership to map the South and West Pacific Ocean's seabed as part of a worldwide initiative to map the entire globe’s seafloor.
A combination of field surveys and on-site observations are being used along with laboratory-based experiments to determine the effects of seabed disturbance on benthic life.
The aim of this voyage was to examine the movement and habitat utilization of pygmy blue whales in New Zealand waters.
The sounds of whales and dolphins rarely seen in New Zealand waters have been recorded in a pioneering underwater sound project.
Māui dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, are listed as nationally critical in New Zealand with a population estimate between 57 and 75 dolphins over one year old.
Biological traits analysis is a valuable tool for measuring ecosystem function.
Where and when do white sharks occur in New Zealand waters, and how can fisheries bycatch be reduced?

Using a novel observational platform – ocean gliders—this research will observe and understand subsurface variations in temperature, salinity, oxygen and biological factors in water shallower than 200 metres – what we consider to be the shelf seas.

Ocean acidification conditions around the New Zealand coast are being measured to establish baseline conditions and to quantify future change.
We are using modern techniques to map seafloor surrounding Kapiti Island, an area of significant cultural and environmental value to New Zealand.

Marine scientists have long recognized the potential of using remotely-sensed data, most often acquired using a sonar system, as a proxy of biophysical indicators.

Interest in offshore petroleum and minerals exploration is growing rapidly as investors identify the potential economic returns from New Zealand’s rich marine resources. The challenge for management agencies and scientists is to facilitate development of this natural wealth while ensuring environmental sustainability is not compromised.

NIWA has joined with the University of Auckland, the University of Canterbury and Cawthron Institute to form Marine Futures, a research programme funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

Acidification of the world’s oceans from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reduces the availability of carbonate required by some marine organisms to build shells and skeletons, and potentially affects their ability to maintain existing structures.

Long-term datasets that track persistent change in the environment are a critical component of any modern ecosystem-based approach to natural resource management and sustainable growth.

The Southern Ocean has a strong influence on New Zealand and global climate. To understand how the oceans have changed over 1000s of years we use sediment archives from the seafloor.

Since the early 2000s, NIWA has been part of the international Argo programme, which is deploying floats to measure temperature and salinity throughout the world's oceans.

How do marine micro-organisms influence the earth's atmosphere and climate?

We need information on the food web structures of our marine ecosystems in order to manage the effects on the ecosystem of fishing, aquaculture and mining, as well as understanding the potential impacts of climate variability and change on our oceans. 

New Zealand's Kaikoura Canyon is a 'biodiversity hotspot', containing far more life than seen before at such depths.