Oceans

Recording old oceans centre tag.

Latest news

New NIWA-led research shows increasing flood risk is going to be what leads people to make changes to adapt to sea-level rise.
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 project is under way to determine whether Aotearoa New Zealand’s long defunct rock oyster industry can be revived.
A pilot study carried out by NIWA and the University of Auckland has found microplastics in samples collected from the seafloor in the Marlborough Sounds.

Our work

Clouds over the ocean, and how they trap or emit radiation from the sun, are partly influenced by the biology, biogeochemistry and physics of the surface ocean below.

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.

Latest videos

Dive into the alien world of plankton in the Ross Sea

Plankton are the base of the oceans food web and are vital to our survival. But as our world changes will they be able to continue to play this essential role? Join us as we follow a group of NIWA scientists investigating various aspects of this question in the ocean around Antarctica.

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

How does NIWA map the seafloor?

Multibeam echo sounders emit a fan of sound beams to the seafloor to scan a wide swath of the seabed in great detail. Compared with conventional echo sounders – which direct a single beam of sound to the seabed directly below a ship – multibeams show more detail and greatly reduce ship survey time and cost.

How it works

The hull-mounted multibeam transceiver sends out a beam of sound waves (see diagram below) which are reflected off the seafloor, back to a receiver on the ship.

New Zealand's largest research vessel Tangaroa sets off today to map, in high resolution detail, the southern Hikurangi Margin - a vital area of seabed off the east coast of New Zealand.

The voyage is part of the Ocean Survey 20/20 project, a 15-year Government project, established in 2004, to survey and explore New Zealand's oceans, to better manage and sustainably develop their resources.

Ocean water properties such as temperature are measured directly, while conductivity is used to tell us the salinity. It also captures water samples at different depths for a variety of chemical and biological measurements made either on the vessel or back in the laboratory.
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.

NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa will set sail this week to explore the biodiversity of deep-sea habitats in the outer Bay of Plenty and southern Kermadec Ridge, starting 80 kilometres off Tauranga.

Scientists have just completed a successful trip to Stewart Island, tagging 23 great white sharks. The sharks were tagged with acoustic and popup tags, and filmed underwater for photo-identification purposes. The tags and photos will allow scientists to investigate the sharks' habitat and behaviour, and to determine the periods during which they inhabit locations such as Stewart Island.

Sea Ice and Climate Change

Dr Mike Williams, physical oceanographer at NIWA, explains the importance of Antarctic sea ice in the Earth's ocean and climate systems and how they may be affected by climate change.

Climate Change and Deepsea Life

Dr Dave Bowden outlines concerns over the impacts of climate change on deepsea life in Antarctic waters.

Exploring Antarctic Deepsea Life

Most of the Southern Ocean outside of the narrow Antarctic continental shelf is more than 3000 m deep. This poses a real challenge for scientists studying the assemblages of animals living on the seabed.

Ocean Acidification

The oceans are an important sink for atmospheric CO2, but as they take up increasing amounts of CO2 they are becoming more acidic.

The Decline of Subantarctic Wildlife

Populations of rockhopper penguins, elephant seals, and grey-headed albatrosses in the subantarctic have declined quite markedly in recent decades.

Next Stop Antarctica

Our Far South is an expedition that aims to raise New Zealanders' awareness of the area south of Stewart Island. Gareth Morgan, Te Radar, scientists and 50 everyday Kiwis are onboard to learn and then share their experience. This is the first video produced by them, showing some of the highlights of the trip so far.

Current and Future Management of the Toothfish Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet explains what makes the Antarctic toothfish fishery one of the best managed fisheries in the world.

Ecosystem Effects and Mitigation of the Toothfish Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet describes the guiding principles that CCAMLR (the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Life) applies to the Antarctic toothfish fishery.

The Antarctic Toothfish Fishery

Antarctic toothfish are fished using longlines in southern Antarctic waters. NIWA fisheries scientist Alistair Dunn describes the history of the fishery and how it has been monitored.

Iron Fertilisation

Iron dissolved in the ocean is an important trace nutrient for phytoplankton – the microscopic plants that support marine food webs.

Southern Ocean Productivity

Phytoplankton – microscopic plants that drift in the sunlit waters of the world's oceans – are the engine that drives all of Antarctica's marine food webs.

Phytoplankton and Climate Change

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains how the Southern Ocean plays a key role in controlling the world's climate, by drawing large amounts of CO2 from Earth's atmosphere into the ocean depths.

Antarctic Coastal Marine Life

Dr Vonda Cummings, benthic ecologist at NIWA, explains the special characteristics of seafloor communities living in Antarctica's coastal waters and the importance of understanding what makes them tick.

Antarctic Seabed Biodiversity

It's a common myth that the oceans surrounding Antarctica hold the most diverse array of animals on earth, but they are home to a collection of species found nowhere else.

Subantarctic Oceanography

NIWA physical oceanographer Dr Mike Williams talks about the world's largest current – the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) – and its influence on the 'oceanography' (ocean characteristics) south of 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
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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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Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
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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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