Benthic habitats

Latest news

Areas of Kaikōura’s seabed show promising signs of recovery just four years after the 2016 earthquake, says NIWA.
A new study is doing a deep dive into whether mussel farms could help reduce nitrogen in New Zealand waters.
A study investigating the level of change needed to improve the state of Hawke’s Bay’s marine environment highlights the magnitude and frequency of interventions required for the seafloor ecosystem to recover.
High-resolution mapping has produced the first ever global estimates of coastal habitat damage caused by anchoring.

Latest videos

Sally Watson - The science behind sediment cores

Sediment cores collected in the Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui will enable scientists to measure the impact humans are having on the shallow marine environment.


Samples collected near regions with high human influence (e.g., next to Picton port) will be compared to samples collected in areas with comparatively relatively low human influence (near marine reserves far from coastal development). 


In collaboration with Marlborough District Council, scientists from the University of Auckland and NIWA will investigate variations in sediment accumulation over time across the Queen Charlotte Sound. They will focus on how human induced changes, including elevated sediment input, introduction of microplastics and changes in sediment composition, influence the flora and fauna that live on the seafloor. 


This project is a part of a broader research initiative, Project EAST, which aims to understand the shallow marine environments around Aotearoa New Zealand. Project EAST uses a range techniques and integrates researchers from multidisciplinary scientific backgrounds to understand shallow marine Ecosystems, Anthropogenic impact, Sediment dynamics and Taiao (Māori perspectives on the natural environment). 


Project EAST team:

Dr Marta Ribo - University of Auckland

Dr Lorna Strachan - University of Auckland

Dr Sally Watson - NIWA

Dr Sarah Seabrook - University of Auckland/NIWA

Dr Rachel Hale - NIWA

Wire deployed corer floats being retrieved

Wire deployed corer floats being retrieved on board the RV Tangaroa. The corer sampled sediments at 9994 metre depths in the Kermadec Trench.

ST47 9990m landing

Wire deployed corer landing at 9994 metre depth in the Kermadec Trench. Deployment and retrieval on board the RV Tangaroa.

Shellfish gathering and farming take place in marine and freshwater environments.

Scientists exploring the Kermadec Trench believe they have retrieved the deepest ever sediment sample from the bottom of the ocean using a wire-deployed corer.
The findings of the most complex underwater coastal survey of the seafloor undertaken in New Zealand, including previously undiscovered natural features and sunken boats, are to be formally presented to the Marlborough community tomorrow.

Pollen from New Zealand pine forests has been shown to travel more than 1500km through wind and ocean currents, and sink thousands of metres into the ocean to reach some of the world’s deepest ecosystems.

Huge mudslides from November’s earthquakes have wiped out all organisms living in the seabed of the Kaikōura Canyon.

This research project investigated whether the mechanisms for periphyton removal in rivers relate more directly to hydraulic and geomorphic conditions than flow metrics.

Find out about the role of toothfish in the ecosystem and the potential effects of fishing.

Now back on dry land, Voyage Leader Richard O'Driscoll reflects on the final days of RV Tangaroa's 2015 Antarctica expedition.
Biodiversity in the Kermadecs

This amazing footage was captured at the Kermadec Ridge in 2011, by NIWA's Deep-Towed Imaging System (DTIS). 

The laser dots are 20 cm apart, and allow us to judge the size or scale of the organisms and features we photograph. 

For more information on our work in the Kermadecs, see 

Welcome to this special edition of Coasts Update, highlighting the Shallow Survey 2012.

Welcome to the latest edition of Coasts Update. Here we bring you news of some of NIWA's latest research on aspects of coastal ecology, and the possible impacts of climate change on one of our coastal communities.

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

The return of the upgraded RV Tangaroa represents a huge advancement for New Zealand science and exploration

NIWA today welcomed home RV Tangaroa, New Zealand’s only deepwater research vessel, after a $20 million dollar upgrade to enhance its ocean science and survey capabilities.

A feeding frenzy of cusk-eels where nothing was previously thought to live, an entirely new species of deep-sea fish, and large crustacean scavengers, are among the highlights of a recent research expedition that is shedding new light on the ecology of deepest places on Earth.

In the past half century, mangroves have increased in extent in estuaries and tidal creeks throughout the upper half of the North Island.

Estuarine restoration research is relatively new in New Zealand and has been largely instigated by community groups that have become increasingly concerned with the decline of plant and animal species.

Two New Zealand research organisations will work closely with one of the world’s leading ocean research and engineering organisations to accelerate research and exploration in a wide range of oceanographic topics in the southwest Pacific region.

Seagrass beds form an important undersea habitat for small fish, seahorses and shellfish in New Zealand.

Researchers at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have contributed their findings to a major news release by the Census of Marine Life charting an astonishing abundance, diversity, and distribution of deep-sea species.

Scientists from the UK, Japan and New Zealand have successfully photographed the deepest fish in the southern hemisphere at 7561 metres deep in the Kermadec Trench, just northeast of New Zealand.

Three new posters of the Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour seabed reveal for the first time a treasure trove of detailed information for the benefit of all New Zealanders.


All staff working on this subject

Coastal Marine Ecologist
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Marine Ecologist - Quantitative Modeller
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Strategy Manager - Coasts & Estuaries
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Fisheries Scientist
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Marine Biology Technician
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Marine Ecology Technician
Marine Ecology Technician
Principal Technician - Marine Biology
Marine Electronics Technician
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