New Initiative to Measure Dredging Impact on Otago Harbor

A new marine community monitoring initiative, led by the University of Otago’s Department of Marine Science and the New Zealand Marine Studies Center, is set to begin exploring the consequences of dredging on Otago Harbor’s rocky shore communities.

Funded by the Otago Pilot of the Participatory Science Platform, the Sediment and Seashores monitoring project is an opportunity for school and community groups to work alongside marine scientists to establish monitoring sites, then photograph and survey the marine community over time in order to assess the effects of dredging on the shoreline.

Project organizers are currently recruiting school groups to the project which will begin data collection in Term 1 of the new school year.

New Zealand Marine Studies Center director Sally Carson said that despite the fact that Otago Harbor has been dredged since 1868, scientific evidence on how marine habitats and species in the harbor are impacted by dredging activities is limited.

“Although some monitoring of the marine species in Otago Harbor is being done already, it so far has only focused on a few key habitats like seagrass and subtidal rocky reefs. This is the first time we’ll be examining dredging’s impact on the rocky intertidal community,” she said.

The marine scientists behind the initiative hope that data collected as part of the monitoring project will provide key information on how marine species and the habitats that support them in the harbor are impacted by, and respond to, the dredging program.

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