A busy month for project reef life

News

Project reef life has had a busy month inspiring the next generation of divers and scientists, building Secchi dicks and identifying mystery species.

A definite highlight for the month of June was working with Year 9 students from Hawera High School to extract the ear bones (otoliths) from blue cod. Their enthusiasm, concentration and motivation to learn more about fish anatomy was incredible! The students were even able to see the rings of one of their extracted otoliths under a microscope which is a method scientists can use to age fish, like counting the rings on a tree.

otolith inspection blue cod
Diamond carefully inspecting a blue cod head

This month, project volunteer and PADI dive instructor Luke Colmer talked for over an hour to year 9 students about diving. The students were absolutely captivated and all the class now want to learn to dive!

Luke inspiring the next generation

Joint Project Lead Karen presented to the Kaponga Lions and the attendees were enthralled with the colourful pictures and videos.  A very generous donation to the project was received a few weeks later.

Karen has also been in contact with Julian, a plankton researcher at CSIRO in Brisbane about a species found in a plankton trawl done at the Reef as well as Michelle Kelly, a sponge taxonomist about a sponge Karen sees commonly washed up on Ohawe beach which doesn’t appear in the NIWA Sponge Guide. A physical sample has been sent to Michelle to be analysed.

mystery plankton
Mystery plankton found in a trawl survey

Project Engineer Richie has had a very busy time this month working on our Mark II in-situ camera drilling, tapping and assembling the base and clamp system to the Blue Robotics housing getting it ready for buoyancy testing. A five day/night test will be run in his fish pond, followed by a continuous run test to see how much heat is generated by the camera and batteries.

A huge number of volunteer hours have been spent making a lockable cabinet to keep all the project equipment within, with a surface suitable for all the maintenance work and enough charger stations for all the equipment!

Joint Project lead Bruce has been busy making a new improved South Taranaki proof secchi disc (used to measure the clarity of the water) as well as making small pyramid blocks to mark the start/finish points for a new benthic survey plan.

Secchi disk
New Secchi disk built by Bruce
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