Oceans

Recording old oceans centre tag.

Latest news

A global effort by seabird researchers, including those from NIWA, has resulted in the first assessment of where the world’s most threatened seabirds spend their time.
Sadie Mills has come a long way from scaring the inhabitants of Scottish rock pools. Sarah Fraser explains.
A large, orange Scandinavian robot gives NIWA’s marine geologists an in-depth look at changes to the seafloor off Kaikōura.
New Zealanders and Pacific Island communities are on their way to having the most advanced tsunami monitoring system in the world.

Our work

We need information on the food web structures of our marine ecosystems in order to manage the effects on the ecosystem of fishing, aquaculture and mining, as well as understanding the potential impacts of climate variability and change on our oceans. 

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.

Latest videos

Antarctic science onboard NIWA’s RV Tangaroa
Researchers are working their way through a wealth of new Antarctic marine data after RV Tangaroa successfully completed its five week scientific voyage to the Ross Sea.
NIWA's Sarah Searson and Jennie Mowatt
If you want to get accurate scientific readings from the icy depths of the Ross Sea, who do you turn to?
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.

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.

Offshore exploration

Offshore exploration

This shows the modelled mean currents off the east coast of the North Island. The colours show the speed of the currents. The arrows show both direction and speed (the longer the arrow, the faster the current).
The main feature is the East Cape Current which flows down the east coast and turns off eastward near 42° S (south of the Wairarapa coast). Here it joins current from Cook Strait giving the strongest mean currents of over 30 centimetres per second (shown in red).

Habitat mapping highlight

Habitat mapping highlight

The demonstration on Tangaroa included imaging this wreck of a minesweeper which sank in Wellington Harbour in 1942 after colliding with an inter-island ferry.

Ian Wright (below right), national centre leader, and Kevin Mackay, marine data manager, demonstrating seabed mapping on RV Tangaroa.

Mapping life on the Napier seafloor

It sounds easy, but equipment and vessel time as well as unpredictable weather make it time consuming and expensive to map the seafloor using cameras alone.

At NIWA, we have developed a quicker, more cost effective method. First we acoustically map the seafloor using technology such as sidescan or multibeam sonar. We use the acoustic images, and our ecological experience, to guide where we deploy video cameras. Once we have the video footage, we use statistical techniques and ecological information on the importance of various species to classify the observations into habitat types.

Monitoring Auckland's intertidal zones

NIWA has been designing and analysing long-term monitoring programmes for the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) to check whether the ecology of some of the region’s harbours is changing.
It can be difficult to measure the impact of human-induced changes on the animals which live in the sandflats, mudflats, rock, beaches, and other terrain between the high and low tide marks. The creatures are generally small, hidden, and tend to cluster together in small patches.

Charts of coastal bathymetry, sediment, and other information are available for purchase.

The flotilla of icebergs currently off the South Island were probably once part of a much larger iceberg from the Ronne Ice Shelf, on the other side of Antarctica from New Zealand.

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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
Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
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Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) Numerical Modeller
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Marine Sedimentologist
Principal Scientist - Carbon Chemistry and Modelling
General Manager - Operations
Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
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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
Freshwater Fish Ecologist
Principal Technician - Marine Geology
Algal Ecologist
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