Auckland Museum is leading a marine expedition to the Three Kings Islands with a team from NIWA, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the University of Queensland, two underwater photographers and a science communicator from Radio New Zealand. We depart on the research vessel RV Braveheart on 8 April 2013 from Tauranga and return on 21 April 2013.
In the lead up to Auckland Museum’s major mid-year 2013 exhibition Moana – My Ocean, the expedition to the Three Kings Islands is the first in a series of projects giving people the chance to learn more about our ocean and the incredible marine life that lives there. In May we’ll launch a free marine field guide app which will help identify some of the hundreds of species living in Auckland’s coastal waters. Moana – My Ocean will open in June and run through to October.
Location of the Three Kings Islands
These small islands are just 55km northwest of New Zealand’s northernmost point, Cape Reinga.
Unique marine life
Although the Three Kings Islands are geographically close to New Zealand they have a very high level of ‘endemism’ of marine fauna and flora – in other words the islands and the waters around them are home to a high number of species that occur nowhere else. This is what makes the island group a high priority region for development of the Auckland Museum’s marine collections and of great interest to biodiversity researchers in New Zealand and overseas.
Goals of the expedition
- Collect and document the marine biodiversity of the Three Kings Islands, in particular the fishes, marine invertebrates and algae
- Build the marine collections of the participating New Zealand institutions and make these collections available for further study by researchers
- Provide a baseline record of species diversity against which to monitor changes over time – an important reference to enable the tracking of changes in species composition that may result from global warming effects on regional water temperatures and currents
- Discover and document new marine species and new records of marine species not recorded previously in the Three Kings Islands (and New Zealand)
The experienced research team is made up of scientists from four agencies each with specialist knowledge of marine species in the region and with research areas that complement each other and contribute to the goals of this biodiscovery expedition to the Three Kings Islands.
- Auckland Museum: Dr Tom Trnski (expedition leader and Head of Natural Sciences), Severine Hannam and Ged Wiren
- Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: Dr Vincent Zintzen and Jeremy Barker (fish specialists)
- NIWA: Dr Malcolm Francis (fish specialist and underwater photographer), Dr Kareen Schnabel (invertebrate specialist), Professor Wendy Nelson and Roberta D’Archino (algae specialists)
- University of Queensland: Libby Liggins (PhD candidate and population geneticist)
- Nik Hannam (fish specialist)
- Radio New Zealand National: Alison Ballance (science communicator and Our Changing World producer)
- Depth.co.nz: Richie Robinson (underwater photographer)
- Ian Skipworth (underwater photographer).