In brief: Close up on critters

An online electron microscope is the newest addition to the tools used by NIWA's real-time identification service to identify marine biosecurity risks to New Zealand.

The online microscope means NIWA's Marine Invasive Taxonomic Service can also use the expertise of international associates to identify unusual or unidentifiable species, usually discovered during inspections for marine pests.

NIWA's Programme Leader for Marine Biosecurity, Dr Graeme Inglis, says that marine biologists at NIWA are using the system to link up with international marine scientists to offer additional identification help in a field where taxonomic specialists are dwindling in numbers.

"Access to international know-how means we can make faster decisions on possible threats to New Zealand's marine biosecurity," says Dr Inglis.

NIWA holds the largest collection of non-indigenous marine organisms in New Zealand, housing several million specimens. 

NIWA Marine Ecology Technician Caroline Chin using a new ‘real-time’ web enabled microscope, giving taxonomists or other interested parties immediate, remote access to images of a specimen via the internet. The virtual microscope consists of a specialised camera that is mounted onto a laboratory microscope thereby giving it the ability to ‘stream’ live images to a website via a desktop console. [Dave Allen]