Deep reveal

The WW2 minesweeper HMNZS South Sea sank after a collision in the main channel of Wellington Harbour in 1942.

The WW2 minesweeper HMNZS South Sea sank after a collision in the main channel of Wellington Harbour in 1942.

HMNZS South Sea in Wellington Harbour in 3D

This 3D image of the vessel’s remarkably intact hull was generated by Marine Geology Technician Sam Davidson, using multibeam echosounder data gathered during a harbour seabed survey.

Davidson used advanced processing techniques to reveal the 20m deep wreck resting almost perfectly on the muddy seafloor. While much of the vessel’s superstructure has been removed to avoid navigation hazards, some features, including an extended lifeboat davit (yellow), are still visible.

Davidson entered the image in the data visualisation section of the 2023 NIWA Staff Photography competition.

As the following images show, the South Sea wreck is just one of many colourful scenes NIWA staff encounter working in the world of environmental science.

trevally circling in the background.
Fresh August snow adds extra bite to environmental monitoring technician Andrew Willsman’s servicing trip to the remote Takahē Valley climate station in the Murchison Mountains.
Hydrodynamics technician Jochen Bind was working on the Southland coast when he caught the Milky Way illuminated by a late summer aurora.
Scientific dive specialist Richie Hughes couldn’t resist a selfie as he documented a bloom of mauve stinger jellyfish drifting past in the Poor Knights Islands.
A late afternoon winter squall sweeps across the southern end of the Two Thumbs Range, shrouding Mt Edward near Tekapo.
Freshwater ecologist Elizabeth Graham heads towards a remote Fiordland tarn in search of rare aquatic insects. High altitude waterways hold a surprising diversity of unique invertebrates.
Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and can tower well over six metres as it reaches for the surface.
A garden of sea pens anchored on the seafloor of Doubtful Sound. Named for their resemblance to old fashioned quill pens, the soft corals filter plankton through their tentacles.
An 11-armed starfish (Stichaster australis), hunting limpets in the newly formed intertidal zone on Wellington Airport’s breakwater.
Scientific diver Aleki Taumoepeau emerges from Southland’s Waituna Lagoon, draped in the native aquatic plant ruppia. Ruppia is a key ecosystem indicator and NIWA surveys the lagoon annually.

This story forms part of Water and Atmosphere - November 2023, read more stories from this series