Marine Invertebrates

Latest news

After a decade-long effort, NIWA’s latest Biodiversity Memoir has just rolled off the presses. Written by marine biologist Kareen Schnabel, the 350-page treatise presents everything we currently know about the different kinds of squat lobster living in New Zealand’s waters.
Scientists mapping the Hauraki Gulf seafloor have discovered huge colonies of tubeworms up to 1.5 metres high and collectively covering hundreds of metres providing vital habitats for plants and animals.
A giant squid and several glow-in-the-dark sharks were surprise finds for NIWA scientists last month on the Chatham Rise during a voyage to survey hoki, New Zealand’s most valuable commercial fish species.
Sam Fraser-Baxter heads to the Wairarapa for one of New Zealand’s longest-running marine surveys – counting baby lobster.

Our work

NIWA is conducting a five–year study to map changes in the distribution of plankton species in surface waters between New Zealand and the Ross Sea.

Latest videos

Ocean acidification - what is it?

The on-going rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is not only changing our climate—it is also changing our oceans. Take a look at the work of the NIWA-led CARIM project into what these changes may mean for the delicate balance of marine life.

NIWA Blake Ambassadors Vlog 3: its bongo time! TAN1810
18 Nov 2018. NIWA Blake Ambassador—Lana Young—explains how bongo nets are deployed to collect plankton around the clock on board the RV Tangaroa.
NIWA Blake Ambassadors Vlog 3: Fishing for water!

7 November 2018. In this Vlog 2 update live from Tangaroa, NIWA Blake Ambassador Siobhan O’Connor shares a typical shift, starting at 2.30am, collecting water samples from different ocean depths which are carefully analysed in the lab. 

We’ve been sampling at Macauley Island for a couple of days now, but before we left Raoul and headed south, we deployed a surface plankton net at dawn.

Using a 2x1m rectangle net we collected all sorts of animals that live at the surface of the ocean, providing food sources for seabirds, fishes and other animals.

Over the last few days the “dive team” have been recording corals, fishes, urchins and other invertebrates from the shallow waters (0-30m) surrounding Raoul Island to complement the biodiversity records from the deeper ocean collected by the other scientists onboard.

An interactive guide to the sponges of New Zealand. Version 3.0 (December 2018) is available for download now!

Another colossal squid is under examination in Wellington, but this one could fit in the palm of your hand.
This week's critter is a sea star that is endemic to New Zealand waters, also known as the "ambush sea star".
A list of current voyage reports in downloadable formats.
Now back on dry land, Voyage Leader Richard O'Driscoll reflects on the final days of RV Tangaroa's 2015 Antarctica expedition.
It has been another amazing week here on the Tangaroa. On Saturday we saw Antarctica which was an absolutely breath-taking experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life!
NIWA scientists surveying shallow water coastal habitats off the east coast of Northland have found a rich diversity of macroalgal meadows, shellfish beds, sponges, and rare fish species.
Fiordland’s depths reveal more new-to-science wonders - Funicularina sp. (sea pen)

Scientists from NIWA and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have used a remote operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with cameras and a grappling arm to locate and sample specimens of sea pen previously unknown to science, hidden in the undiveable depths of remote Fiordland.

A glow-in-the-dark limpet, a fierce-looking 'toe-biter' (which isn't fierce at all and would scarper at first sniff of your toe) and a mayfly that lacks a functioning mouth (and, not-surprisingly, lives as an adult for only a few days) are just some of the weird and wonderful critters to be found in New Zealand's 425,000 kilometres of streams and rivers.

An interactive guide to the sea squirts (ascidians) of New Zealand's coastal waters now available for download.
Vent and seamount fauna - Tangaroa Seamount

A collection of images of some of the chemosynthetic barnacles, mussels, and shrimps on Tangaroa Seamount. The footage and specimens confirmed active hydrothermal venting.

NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa recently returned from a 3-week voyage, with pictures (see gallery at bottom of article), film footage and samples of new discoveries from the deep-sea floor, including footage of a new hydrothermal vent on an undersea volcano.

ROV Fiordland footage

Never before seen footage. This amazing footage was captured by our ROV in the Fiordland Sounds.

Antarctic Coastal Marine Life in a Changing Climate

NIWA marine ecologist Dr Vonda Cummings discusses the likely effects of climate change on marine invertebrates living on the seafloor of the Ross Sea coast.

A recent expedition to one of the deepest places on Earth has discovered one of the most enigmatic creatures in the deep sea: the 'supergiant' amphipod.

When you leave the beach this summer, the memory of a great holiday can be savoured with a sea shell. Lift it up to your ear, and you hear the roar of the sea once more.

The 'yeti crab' generated media attention worldwide when the first species was found around deep-sea hydrothermal vents off the Easter Islands at around 2200 m depth (Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005).

International Congress for Conservation Biology

5 December 2011 to 9 December 2011

NIWA is sponsoring the 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology.

NIWA staff are running three workshop 'Think Tanks' before the conference, these worksops are:

Implications of environmental change to Antarctic ecosystems 2, 3, 4 December, for more information contact v.cummings@niwa.co.nz 

Deep-sea coral research to enhance conservation 2, 3 December, for more information contact d.tracey@niwa.co.nz

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All staff working on this subject

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Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Senior Regional Manager - Wellington
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Marine Invertebrate Systematist
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Regional Manager - Wellington
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Marine Ecology Technician
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Marine Ecology Technician
Principal Technician - Marine Biology
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Marine Biologist
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