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Reef Science


FISHING SURVEYS (Project Reef, Taranaki)

One of the learning focuses of Project Reef Life is on conducting fishing surveys – a means with which students can gather insights into the abundance and diversity of predatory reef fish. Students go out on a Charter boat to the Project reef, a journey down the Patea river and out through the Patea Bar. For some, it is their first time out on a boat in the South Taranaki ocean, and the first time to experience fishing. At a follow-up lesson, the Project’s marine scientist works with the students to graph the results, calculate a ‘catch per unit effort/CPUE’ (the total time each angler spends fishing is recorded in order to calculate catch per unit effort) and explore the insights and limitations the data provides.



Hawera High School students chose an investigative project during 2019 – looking at what the South Taranaki blue cod and snapper diets are and how they might vary depending on where they were caught. One way they chose to discover this, was through dissecting their stomachs and recording the organisms found. Photographs of stomach contents were taken and shared with NIWA scientist, Jeff, skilled in this line of work, who did some identifications. The students later did a voice call with Jeff and took turns to ask him questions about his work and their findings.

The students wrote and delivered letters to local recreational fishermen of the South Taranaki Underwater Club, asking for help in collecting the stomachs.



B.U.V (High School)

Our marine scientist works with students to explain what a ‘baited underwater video’ or ‘BUV’ is, its history, its advantages and limitations, the sampling method, how to set up a BUV, deploy it and analyse the data from the video. The use of BUV’s by the Department of Conservation is also discussed.


BUV’s are an unobtrusive sampling method that can be used to record size and relative abundance estimates of scavenger and carnivorous reef-fish species. In New Zealand, the BUV survey method was first used to reduce the impact that diver-based surveys were having on fish behaviour.



The aim of Project Reef Life's Benthic Surveys is to investigate the distribution and abundance of benthic organisms across the Project Reef and to maintain a database to monitor changes on the Project Reef over time. (Benthic = dwelling on, or in, the seabed).
The project works with marine scientist Nicole Sturgess on our methodology for survey work and to deliver informative and engaging lessons on this scientific method.


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