Sediment tolerance and mortality thresholds of benthic habitats
We are investigating the effects that suspended sediment from human activities has on the health and survival of deep-sea species in the South Taranaki Bight.
Project leader: Malcolm Clark, NIWA
Duration: October 2016 – January 2019
Human activities, such as mining and fishing, can generate suspended sediment that affect the health and survival of deep-sea species. We are using innovative laboratory experiments to understand how resilient species are, and how quickly they can recover.
We have completed trials on two deep-sea animals: dog cockles (Tucetona laticostata) and a sponge (Crella incrustans) found in the Taranaki Bight area. We put collected specimens in seawater to see how they responded to different conditions. The seawater ranged from clean to very murky with a high concentration of suspended sediment. We measured their survival, feeding, respiration, buoyant weight, tissue condition, internal sediment accumulation, and various stress responses such as budding and mucous production over time. After four weeks, we returned the specimens to normal seawater and monitored how well they recovered from our experiment.
Our research will determine the level of suspended sediment that has an impact on these deep-sea species. From these results, we can predict when management or mitigation strategies will be needed to protect them.
Ellis JI, Clark MR, Rouse HL and Lamarche G (2017) Environmental management frameworks for offshore mining: the New Zealand approach. Marine Policy 84:178-192 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.07.004
Latest news and updates
Kaikōura community members gathered on 10 April to hear from National Science Challenge researchers who have been working in the area since the 2016 quake.
Last week (4-8 March) the Sustainable Seas team were in Nelson on a LEARNZ virtual field trip. Sustainable Seas researchers talked to students from over 100 schools around New Zealand about ecosystem-based management, kaitiakitanga of the marine environment, ecosystem services and tracking plastics in our oceans.
We are pleased to welcome Joe Harawira and Ian Ruru to the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge Kāhui Māori.