The Kermadec Expedition, October/November 2015
The Kermadec Biodiscovery Expedition in 2011 resulted in significant collections documenting the coastal marine biodiversity and the findings have just been published in the Bulletin of the Auckland Museum. Among the findings were many new species described, and even more species recorded from the Kermadec Islands region for the first time. This work has set a solid baseline for further research on the biology and ecology of the coastal waters of the Kermadec Islands.
In July this year, the museum was approached by Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ) to join them on a voyage to the Kermadec Islands. NHNZ are filming a second series of Our Big Blue Backyard and one episode will be on the remote Kermadec Islands.
Our visit is timely as a few weeks ago the Prime Minister announced that the existing marine reserve around the islands would be extended to form a huge Ocean Sanctuary, which would be equivalent in area to more than twice the landmass of New Zealand!
We leave Tauranga on the Research Vessel Braveheart on Sunday 18 October and we will spend almost three weeks at the Kermadec Islands. We have assembled a team of researchers to:
- complement the collections of 2011 by deploying techniques not used in 2011 (for example plankton nets and light traps)
- establish baseline data to monitor change in the marine communities over time (for example to detect ocean warming impacts)
- gather specimens to estimate dispersal within the Kermadec archipelago, between New Zealand mainland and the Kermadec archipelago, and from further afield using chemical and genetic techniques.
The generous offer by NHNZ to have five scientists join them will make for a synergy that will benefit both groups.