Friday, 19th October 2018

MEDIA RELEASE: Students to voyage to Chatham Rise on board RV Tangaroa

Two talented young New Zealanders are on their way to the Chatham Rise on board NIWA’s Research Vessel Tangaroa as part of a month-long science voyage, after winning a coveted Blake NIWA Ambassadorship.

Victoria University student Siobahn O'Connor (21) and Otago University student Lana Young (23) have been selected from more than 100 applications to travel with marine experts and the crew of Tangaroa as part of a science expedition led by NIWA.

This unique science expedition focuses on ‘Salp bloom’ effects on the carbon cycle and marine food web. Salp are planktonic marine invertebrate that have a big influence on our marine ecosystem. They vary in size, from a few mm to up to 20 cm for some species, and under certain conditions can form dense blooms due to their extremely high growth rates.  Salps are both a food source of many sea animal and play a unique role of transferring significant amounts of carbon from the surface to deep water.

James Gibson, CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust says this will be a life-changing experience for the Blake Ambassadors. “As science students with a passion for the marine environment, Siobhan and Lana will be in their element on board Tangaroa which is fully equipped for ocean science.

“This will be a challenging, hands-on experience where they’ll develop new skills, knowledge and networks and we look forward to them sharing their experience with other New Zealanders throughout their journey.”

John Morgan, NIWA’s Chief Executive says “As Principal Science Partner to the Sir Peter Blake Trust, NIWA is proud to offer these impressive young students the opportunity to be an important part of the research programme, working alongside NIWA scientists and the crew of Tangaroa. It will be an unforgettable experience."

The Sir Peter Blake Trust, together with their partners, Antarctica New Zealand, NIWA, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Tara Expeditions Foundation, will announce 14 Blake Ambassadorships in total this year.

The Blake Ambassador programme allows young New Zealanders (aged 18 – 25 years) to work alongside leading scientists, conservators and rangers, developing relationships and partnerships in their field of interest and experiencing the practical elements of their field of study.

Follow them on #BlakeAmbassadors

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EDITORS NOTES:

Blake NIWA Ambassador – RV Tangaroa Voyage 21 October – 21 November 2018

In this role Siobhan (21) and Lana (23) will join scientists on a voyage to the Chatham Rise on board the RV Tangaroa. This science expedition focuses on ‘Salp bloom’ effects on the carbon cycle and marine food web.

Salp are planktonic marine invertebrate animals that move by pumping water through their bodies. They feed rapidly on some of the smallest phytoplankton in the ocean, forming massive ‘blooms’, spanning thousands of square kilometres. Many people will recognise salp as the gelatinous little creatures that wash up on beaches during the summer and cause a ‘salp soup’ to swim through.

Salp are big influencers in our marine eco system. Not only are they the food source of many sea animals, but they also play a unique role of transferring significant amounts of carbon from the surface to deep water.

The irregular nature of swarms and variability in size, makes them complicated to study. This science team will conduct targeted experimental cycles in water masses with both high salp numbers and without salps to measure their impact on biogeochemistry and estimate their effects on the marine food-web.