Marine Invertebrates

Latest news

With cascading waterfalls and native bush tumbling down mountainous terrain, Fiordland is one of the most eye-catching parts of the country. But peer beneath the waves and you'll see that Fiordland's marine invertebrate and seaweed communities are every bit as remarkable and awe-inspiring.
A group of gorgonian octocorals that provide shelter for fish and invertebrates in the deep sea is the subject of NIWA’s latest Biodiversity Memoir.
Sadie Mills has come a long way from scaring the inhabitants of Scottish rock pools. Sarah Fraser explains.
New Zealand’s native fish are doing their best to climb up ramps in a NIWA laboratory so scientists can learn how to better help them navigate our tricky waterways.

Our work

NIWA is conducting a five–year study to map changes in the distribution of plankton species in surface waters between New Zealand and the Ross Sea.

Latest videos

Powering diversity in the Ross Sea

Fisheries scientist Dr Pablo Escobar-Flores delves into Antarctic mesopelagic science with a look at the small animals and organisms that help power the amazing diversity of life in the Ross Sea.

Ocean acidification - what is it?

The on-going rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is not only changing our climate—it is also changing our oceans. Take a look at the work of the NIWA-led CARIM project into what these changes may mean for the delicate balance of marine life.

NIWA Blake Ambassadors Vlog 3: its bongo time! TAN1810
18 Nov 2018. NIWA Blake Ambassador—Lana Young—explains how bongo nets are deployed to collect plankton around the clock on board the RV Tangaroa.

This week we feature a community of critters living on the Chatham Rise sea floor.

Recording underwater biodiversity after earthquakes

NIWA’s marine ecologist Dr Dave Bowden talks about the catastrophic changes to the seafloor in the Kaikoura Canyon following the November 2016 earthquake.

Squat lobsters are known for their lengthy eyelashes and come in many different sizes from the mighty Munidopsis aries (90mm carapace length) to some species which have bodies only a few millimetres long.
A voyage to the Kermadec Islands has resulted in the discovery of many species either new to science or not previously found in the area.
This year is the 2400th anniversary of the birth of Aristotle, a philosopher and scientist (384 BCE), who among other many great achievements was the first person to describe the structure, ecology, and diversity of sea urchins – way back in the 4th century BC.
A new fully illustrated electronic identification guide, Bountiful Bryozoans, has just been released to help people identify this group of marine creatures in the wild.
Exploring the deepsea

Despite many centuries of maritime exploration, only a fraction of our planet's seafloor has been observed. NIWA Deepsea Scientist Di Tracey tells us what it feels like to probe deep beneath the waves to see what's living on the ocean floor.

An interactive guide to the bryozoans of New Zealand
An interactive guide to the starfish of the Ross Sea
We have reached the end of our sampling program up in the Kermadecs and we’re on our way home

We’ve been sampling at Macauley Island for a couple of days now, but before we left Raoul and headed south, we deployed a surface plankton net at dawn.

Using a 2x1m rectangle net we collected all sorts of animals that live at the surface of the ocean, providing food sources for seabirds, fishes and other animals.

Over the last few days the “dive team” have been recording corals, fishes, urchins and other invertebrates from the shallow waters (0-30m) surrounding Raoul Island to complement the biodiversity records from the deeper ocean collected by the other scientists onboard.
An interactive guide to the sponges of New Zealand.
Sea cucumbers are usually, well cucumber-shaped, however there are exceptions.
Another colossal squid is under examination in Wellington, but this one could fit in the palm of your hand.
This week's critter is a sea star that is endemic to New Zealand waters, also known as the "ambush sea star".
Now back on dry land, Voyage Leader Richard O'Driscoll reflects on the final days of RV Tangaroa's 2015 Antarctica expedition.
It has been another amazing week here on the Tangaroa. On Saturday we saw Antarctica which was an absolutely breath-taking experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life!
NIWA scientists surveying shallow water coastal habitats off the east coast of Northland have found a rich diversity of macroalgal meadows, shellfish beds, sponges, and rare fish species.
Fiordland’s depths reveal more new-to-science wonders - Funicularina sp. (sea pen)

Scientists from NIWA and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have used a remote operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with cameras and a grappling arm to locate and sample specimens of sea pen previously unknown to science, hidden in the undiveable depths of remote Fiordland.

A glow-in-the-dark limpet, a fierce-looking 'toe-biter' (which isn't fierce at all and would scarper at first sniff of your toe) and a mayfly that lacks a functioning mouth (and, not-surprisingly, lives as an adult for only a few days) are just some of the weird and wonderful critters to be found in New Zealand's 425,000 kilometres of streams and rivers.

An interactive guide to the sea squirts (ascidians) of New Zealand's coastal waters.

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All staff working on this subject

Manager - Coasts and Oceans
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Strategy Manager - Coasts & Estuaries
Senior Regional Manager - Wellington
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Regional Manager - Wellington
Fisheries Scientist
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Marine Biology Technician
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Marine Ecology Technician
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Marine Ecology Technician
Principal Technician - Marine Biology
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Marine Biologist
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