Oceans

Recording old oceans centre tag.

Latest news

NIWA’s flagship research vessel Tangaroa will sail out of Wellington Harbour on Sunday for the first scientific voyage since the lockdown.
A deep dive into the collection of an Auckland War Memorial Museum has revealed an extremely rare albino shark.
A little can mean a lot – especially when it comes to the relationship between sea level rise and coastal flooding.
A giant squid and several glow-in-the-dark sharks were surprise finds for NIWA scientists last month on the Chatham Rise during a voyage to survey hoki, New Zealand’s most valuable commercial fish species.

Our work

Ocean acidification conditions around the New Zealand coast are being measured to establish baseline conditions and to quantify future change.
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.
Our oceans are expected to become more acidic as carbon dioxide concentrations rise. This will likely have impacts on the plankton, which play a major role in ocean ecosystems and processes.
Where and when do white sharks occur in New Zealand waters, and how can fisheries bycatch be reduced?

Latest videos

Ocean Acidification
This video has been produced to highlight ocean acidification as a potential issue affecting the NZ shellfish aquaculture industry
Echo, Echo: Scanning the Seafloor on R.V. Tangaroa

NIWA ocean geologist Dr Joshu Mountjoy explains how the R.V. Tangaroa's multibeam system is used for bathymetric (seabed) mapping, and some of the benefits which come out of this mapping.

Seabed Frontier: A Brief History of Bathymetry

NIWA marine geologist John Mitchell gives a brief history of bathymetric (seabed) charting, and how it's been carried out over the last few hundred years. (01:18) 

Big Fish, Calm Sea - White Shark Tagging off Stewart Island

Tagging White Sharks off Stewart Island, NZ Scientists from DOC, NIWA, and the University of Auckland are building a unique picture of New Zealand's great white shark population.

Smart buoy for coastal monitoring

Smart buoy for coastal monitoring

Solar-powered C-SMART buoy.

NIWA Instrument Systems is developing a surface buoy to collect real-time coastal data on such things as weather, currents, waves, and water conditions.
Dubbed ‘C–SMART’ (Coastal Scientific Monitoring And Real-time Telemetry), the buoy will gather, process, and transmit data from sensors both above and below water.
Smart buoys are not new, but most are large, cumbersome, and expensive to develop and support.

Better tools mean improved knowledge and services

Better tools mean improved knowledge and services
Environmental research and consultancy is increasingly moving from an era of ‘occasional observation’ to ‘realtime monitoring’, allowing better understanding and decision-making about environmental management.
For the marine environment, where data-gathering is inherently more difficult and expensive, continued investment in new instruments with capability for in situ and real-time monitoring is crucial.
We can also now access better and more sophisticated computer models to predict the causes and consequences of envi

Getting intimate with aquatic sediments

Getting intimate with aquatic sediments

The Unisense profiler’s microsensors can measure a range of variables. (Photo: Lee Bryant, Virginia Polytechnic Institute)

NIWA’s new micro-profiler enables us to study biogeochemical processes in aquatic sediments at a remarkably fine scale.
The profiler can take measurements on the seabed (or lake floor) in up to 100 m water depth. Several microsensors automatically probe into the sediment at increments of as little as 50 micrometres (about the width of a human hair).

What happens to nutrients in estuaries?

What happens to nutrients in estuaries?

Estimated concentrations of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) (top) and phytoflagellates (phytoplankton, bottom) in the Firth of Thames.

Recent modelling by NIWA scientists is improving our understanding of nutrient cycling in estuaries.
Many estuaries around New Zealand are receiving increased nutrient inputs from their catchments.

Measuring trace gases in the open ocean

Measuring trace gases in the open ocean

A semi-autonomous analytical instrument developed by NIWA is being used to measure key trace gases in the open ocean, allowing us to determine how important the oceanic source of these gases is relative to emissions by humans.
We’re using the instrument to take continuous measurements of methane and nitrous oxide (both greenhouse gases), and carbon monoxide (important in the atmosphere’s chemistry) in air and surface waters around New Zealand over periods of 6–7 days.

Revealing the forces that shape beaches

Revealing the forces that shape beaches

A time-averaged picture of Tairua Beach. The two white bands indicate the positions of the shoreline (left) and sandbar (right). Hourly Cam-Era images from eight New Zealand beaches can be accessed from the Cam-era website.

Understanding what causes some parts of beaches to erode and others to build up is important for coastal dwellers and developers.

Predicting ocean nutrient levels

Predicting ocean nutrient levels

Repeated measurements of temperature and nitrate concentrations were made on transects sailed by Tangaroa and Munida in subtropical (S2 ) and subantarctic (S4) waters and the Subtropical Front (S3) southeast of New Zealand.

Nitrate availability is one of the main factors controlling primary productivity in the world’s oceans. We are using NIWA datasets to better understand variability in concentrations of this important nutrient.

Backscatter workshop a success

Backscatter workshop a success

The workshop had a strong practical component. Participants from a range of agencies had the chance to use the latest advanced backscatter processing software (SonarScope) developed at IFREMER.

It was an intensive day. On 9 November, about 35 people attended a workshop on processing and use of sonar backscatter for advanced seafloor mapping at NIWA’s Greta Point campus.

Monitoring the sea level

Monitoring the sea level

Sea-level monitoring station at Charleston (west coast).

NIWA coordinates a network of 20 open coast sea-level recorders around New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands, and Antarctica (Scott Base). The recorders collect accurate measurements of sea level and tides for monitoring coastal hazards such as storm surge and tsunami, and studying longer-term coastal processes, including El Niño effects and sea-level rise. Data are uploaded nightly and some sites are displayed at www.niwascience.co.nz/services/sealevels.

Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment: issues & solutions

Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment: issues & solutions

NIWA will host a two-day workshop next year through the National Centre for Water Resources and National Centre for Coasts & Oceans to highlight issues around managing the effects of land use and the transfer of these effects to the coastal environment.
When: 4–5 May 2006
Where: Te Papa, Wellington
Further details will be announced shortly.

Myriad applications for isotope analysis

Myriad applications for isotope analysis

NIWA’s New Wave micromill is used to prepare microsamples for chemical and isotopic analysis. Complex structures can be sampled with submicron stage resolution and positional accuracy. Pictured clockwise top to bottom are: speleothem (being milled), bamboo coral sections, a galaxid otolith, a pair of pilchard otoliths.

NIWA is the leading institute in New Zealand doing high resolution analysis of stable isotopes in carbonates to identify environmental change over timescales of tens to thousands of years.

When paua seek a home

When paua seek a home

This map shows a snapshot of modelled larval distribution. Blue areas have the least larvae; red areas have the most. The arrows show the direction and speed of currents. An eddy has formed in the lee of the headland at the entrance to Tolaga Bay and larvae are concentrating near the centre of the eddy.

Shellfish larvae are transported along the coast by marine currents, but how far do the larvae spread and how effectively do they settle?

Hear world experts on seafloor mapping

Hear world experts on seafloor mapping

Xavier Lurton and Jean-Marie Augustin from IFREMER, the French Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea, are visiting NIWA under the Royal Society ISAT programme. They will present a one-day workshop on the processing and use of multibeam backscatter imagery for seafloor substrate mapping.
When: Wednesday, 9 November
Where: NIWA, Greta Point, Wellington
Attendance, including lunch, is free. Registrations are required by 1 November. www.niwascience.co.nz/ncco/courses

Modelling aquaculture effects in the Firth of Thames

Modelling aquaculture effects in the Firth of Thames
A new simulation model of nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics developed by NIWA is being used in the Firth of Thames.

Time & depth averaged simulated concentrations of dinoflagellates, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, diatoms, and phytoflagellates in the Firth of Thames, May 2003. The scale is the log of the concentration in milligrams per cubic metre. This work was funded by the Auckland Regional Council, Environment Waikato, and the Western Firth Marine Farming Consortium.

Where are the offshore minerals?

Where are the offshore minerals?

Photo courtesy of Diamond Offshore Drilling.

Currently over 100 000 km2 of seafloor around New Zealand are permitted for hydrocarbon exploration. NIWA has been undertaking seafloor surveys for new gas pipelines to shore, and site surveys for oil-rig drilling operations. In recent months we have undertaken multibeam and high-resolution seismic surveys of the Kupe and Pohokura production sites and possible pipeline routes, and a site survey of the Tui development area for engineering evaluations.

Building better offshore mussel farms

Building better offshore mussel farms

Measuring mussel float motion by radar. The radar is equivalent to 30 police radars monitoring different points on the water surface.

Mussel farms near the shore face increasing space constraints, but building further offshore is not a matter of simply ‘beefing up’ an inshore mussel farm.
Existing large farms in areas like Golden Bay and the Firth of Thames are relatively sheltered.

Marine Environment Classification launched

Marine Environment Classification launched

The leader of the National Centre for Coasts & Oceans, Dr Ian Wright, talks with the Minister, and with Dr Barry Carbon, Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment, at the launch.

‘Not only is the MEC a great tool; it is a strategic tool.’ Hon Marian Hobbs, Minister for the Environment.

The Minister for the Environment, Hon Marian Hobbs, formally launched New Zealand’s first Marine Environment Classification (MEC) last month.
Hailing the MEC as a world-class environmental management tool, the Minister said that be

Sounds surveyed

Sounds surveyed

The wreck of the Soviet cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov which sank at Port Gore, Marlborough Sounds, on 16 February 1986. This image was created by NIWA using the same high-frequency side-scan sonar technology that we use for mapping seafloor habitats for FRIAs, marine conservation, and port developments.

How green's the bay?

How green's the bay?

Mean chlorophyll concentrations in the Bay of Plenty for October 1997–2004.

NIWA is applying a cutting-edge method of estimating surface chlorophyll concentrations around the coast to help Environment Bay of Plenty with work on aquaculture management areas.
Chlorophyll is produced by microscopic plants (phytoplankton), and its concentration is related to the amount of phytoplankton in the water. These organisms are at the base of the marine food chain, so it is important to estimate how much phytoplankton there is.

Vessels rise to Argo challenge

Vessels rise to Argo challenge

It’s a float’s life: the 10-day cycle of data collection.

NIWA research vessels, criss-crossing the Pacific, are making a major contribution to Argo, the international ocean observation programme.
Argo aims to maintain a global network of high-tech floats measuring currents, temperature, and salinity in the upper ocean. ‘Filling the remote South Pacific was always going to be a big challenge,’ says Professor Dean Roemmich of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego, USA).
That’s where NIWA came in.

Wave rider buoy 'very valuable'

Wave rider buoy 'very valuable'

Since 1995, NIWA’s wave rider buoy off Baring Head, near the entrance to Wellington Harbour, has been providing the harbourmaster, Toll NZ (formerly Tranz Rail), and the MetService with accurate measurements of the waves off Wellington’s south coast.
Captain Mike Pryce is the Wellington regional harbourmaster.

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All staff working on this subject

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Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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Marine Biogeochemistry Technician
Marine Mammal Acoustician
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Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
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Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
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Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) Numerical Modeller
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Marine Sedimentologist
General Manager - Operations
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
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Marine Physics Modeller
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Principal Scientist - Marine Physics
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Physical Oceanographer
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Marine Biologist (Biosecurity)
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
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Freshwater Fish Ecologist
Principal Technician - Marine Geology
Algal Ecologist
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