new species of sea creatures found in NZ

Source: TVNZ ONE News march 2009

Scientists have dived into the unknown to discover new species of spineless sea creatures in Fiordland.

New Zealand’s largest national park is a popular destination for outdoor adventurers but until now not much has been known about its thriving marine life.

A group from Niwa and the NZ  Department of Conservation found the 25 new species of invertebrates while diving in Fiordland.

“It’s a big buzz, it really is,” says Trevor Willis, one of the scientists from the combined team who took to the water.

The scientists searched high and low during the two week expedition which took them to cracks and crevasses where no man has gone before.

Fiordland is a world heritage area above the water, and a national park above the water, but our knowledge of what’s underneath the water is fairly limited,” says Dr Willis.

The new sea creatures are mainly sea-squirts and sponges.

“It’s a beginning and I suspect we’re going to find much more as time goes on,” Willis says.

The Department of Conservation says the greater knowledge of the depths of Fiordland will help them assess potential threats to the wildlife, including threats from people fishing and diving, as well as from ships with anchors.

The team hopes to dive back into the water in a couple of weeks to discover more at the water wonderland.

Author: Heather - the kiwi travel writer

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