- Primary Science
- Eastern Hutt School
- What lies beneath: investigating and conserving the biodiversity of the ocean
- National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)
Kerry Harrison spent her fellowship based at NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) in Wellington. While there her objectives were to develop skills and an understanding of collecting, cataloguing and preserving marine invertebrates and to increase her knowledge of marine ecosystems and aquaculture.
Kerry was based in NIWA’s Invertebrate Collection, which contains marine invertebrate specimens (such as shellfish, crustaceans, sea sponges, corals, sea urchins, worms and sea stars) collected from New Zealand and Antarctic waters. While there she learnt processes for preserving specimens either by drying, freezing or fixing in jars of ethanol or formalin and the importance of meticulously cataloguing samples so they can be accessed by scientists from around the world to study.
Kerry also spent time at the Mahanga Bay Aquaculture Facility in Wellington. Research being done at Mahanga Bay includes farming paua, groper and butterfish. Kerry got to experience a paua census where each paua is tagged, measured and weighed. She also assisted weighing and measuring groper farmed in nets on rafts in the harbour.
The main highlight of her fellowship was the 2-week voyage she spent on NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa. The purpose of this voyage was to survey 4 different deep-sea habitats (seeps, slopes, canyons and sea mounts) to compare the biodiversity of marine organisms found there. Kerry was involved with processing samples caught, which included washing and sorting specimens from the surrounding mud, preliminary identification, preserving and labelling. She also wrote the daily ship to shore logs which are published on the Censeam website. This experience was invaluable as it allowed her to witness the methods used for collecting specimens and to see the marine organisms in their natural habitats via the underwater videos.
Other highlights of her science fellowship were:
- Learning how to develop website pages for the NIWA Invertebrate Collection and Censeam website to provide outreach for the community.
- Discovering the huge number and variety of marine invertebrates around NZ, learning their names and seeing them in their natural environment and up close.
- Being welcomed positively into the community of scientists at NIWA and aboard Tangaroa and experiencing their willingness to pass on their knowledge and passion.
- Participating in the Enhancing Leadership course at Otago University where she formed greater personal awareness, knowledge of leadership styles and development of her leadership values and philosophy.
- Developing a greater understanding of science concepts relating to the ocean during the creation of a set of science investigations as part of a NIWA Crest package.
- Having the time to spend investigating resources available to schools, both books and Internet resources.
Kerry would like to thank the Royal Society, Staff at NIWA, and especially in the Invertebrate Collection, Mahanga Bay Aquaculture and those on the Tangaroa voyage, for willingly passing on their knowledge, answering questions and sharing their love of marine biology with her. She now looks forward to returning to school to pass on her new-found passion for science to others.
For further information go to Kerry’s blog – www.beingascientist.blogspot.com