Maintaining and expanding longitudinal monitoring: Southern (Otago) Moorings

Project Leader(s) Dr Daniel Pritchard (UoO) 

Project Team Dr Kim Currie, Judith Murdock  

In many places around the world, including in Aotearoa New Zealand, there is a growing realisation of the value of well-maintained and executed environmental and ecosystem monitoring. Increasingly we are aware that to properly confront the challenges of climate change high quality long-term data are required.  

Coastal People Southern Skies (CPSS) will address this, in part, by proving platforms and opportunities for long-term monitoring. We plan to establish fixed-point, subtidal biogeochemical and environmental moorings within important habitats at three locations across the latitudinal gradient of Aotearoa New Zealand. These anchor sites will be supported directly by CPSS tertiary education and research partners (University of Otago, Victoria University Wellington, Auckland University and NIWA). 

This project proposal is for the Southern (Otago) mooring site, along with some of the infrastructure required to support other CPSS partners to establish similar platforms in their region. This mooring will be deployed and maintained by the University of Otago and NIWA.  

Two benthic subtidal (underwater on the seabed) moorings will be re-established in a place of significant cultural and scientific interest (the Huriawa Peninsula, in the East Otago Taiāpure) which have previously been used for similar monitoring. The moorings are inside a kelp bed in ≈ 2m of water depth and outside a kelp bed in ≈ 12m of water.  Initially these moorings will continuously measure pH, oxygen, temperature, pressure (water depth), salinity and light. This will be supplemented with regular (monthly) measurements of inorganic carbon (DIC), alkalinity, nutrients, and chlorophyll concentrations. 

This will allow us to tease apart key drivers of change in coastal seas and establish a baseline against which to measure both future degradation and future success of mitigation strategies and actions. It will also provide a platform for several aligned projects within CPSS, opportunities for training and community engagement / outreach activities and fundamental environmental data and context for other research projects (both within CPSS and more widely).