NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa returned from a five-week voyage to the Louisville Seamount Chain in March after completing a biological survey of this rarely sampled area.
The voyage was one of the first of its kind aimed at giving scientists a better understanding about marine ecosystems vulnerable to commercial fishing. The main goal was to verify scientific models that predict the whereabouts of sea animals that indicate the presence of a vulnerable marine ecosystem.
The Louisville Seamount Chain is about 1000km northeast of New Zealand and extends more than 4000km.
Voyage leader and NIWA principal scientist Dr Malcolm Clark said scientists had to be adaptable during the survey, as the size and shape of the seamounts differed from expected, as did the location of the animals.
Samples of some animals were captured using small seafloor sleds. Some live corals were also recovered and will be analysed to determine the effect of ocean acidification on coral growth.
Science staff sorting through specimens from the epibenthic sled. [Deb Osterhage]