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Identifying Species

March 21, 2017

Project Reef Life is a pioneering citizen science program which at it's heart is all about understanding and then sharing the knowledge of life forms underneath the Oceans surface. Located 11km offshore at 23m depth, it's a place that required skilled voluntary divers working together with scientists to record data. We are so pleased that as of right now over 64 species have been identified at the Project Reef, and uploaded to a national database ‘NatureWatch NZ’. We discover more species with each new dive. Please look over our 'species' page for more information.

Big Creatures Pass Us By

March 30, 2017

There is a lot of footage and video of bigger marine life (eg: Killer Whales / Orca to Risso Dolphins to mighty Humpback Whales ) that pass by our coastline on their journeys of migration and food resourcing. Our early stage analysis (March 2017) of the hydrophone deployed at the Project Reef has identified Humpback whale calls and the ‘thunder’ of an aftershock from the large earthquake that struck Kaikoura in November. The objective of our acoustic survey is to assess the acoustic diversity at the Project Reef.

Current Work

March 22, 2016

Four survey approaches are used plus some additional general observation work. Part of the ‘benthic survey’ work, has resulted in the Hawera High School students developing a ‘Species ID guide’.


a. An in-situ underwater camera survey, with a camera fixed to a mooring and the image data analysed. Hawera High School students will assist in entering data into NatureWatch NZ – a public database.


b. Surveys of the density of organisms living on the reef – ‘benthic survey’


c. Hook and line surveys conducted by Hawera High School students and Patea Area School students.


d. An acoustic survey using a hydrophone.


The ‘benthic survey’ involves a diver transect method, with the diver capturing images of 0.5m2 quadrats randomly situated around the reef. The random allocation of quadrats is achieved through a ‘random coordinate system’ with one coordinate corresponding to a bearing and the other coordinate corresponding to the distance along the transect line. The survey will be replicated during the year, in an effort to capture seasonal variation in the benthic community.

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