September 1, 2011

Reef Check Branches Out to New Zealand


By Jesus Ruiz Lopez, Reef Check New Zealand

New Zealand has a coastline of over 15,000 km, and its marine shore and seascape extends from subtropical waters in the north to cold subantarctic waters in the south. This nutrient rich mix of waters supports a high diversity of marine life. Rocky reefs and kelp beds support many species which are recreationally and commercially fished, such as snapper, blue cod, lobster, kina and paua.

New Zealand is an isolated country in the south-west of the Pacific which means there is a high proportion of marine species only found here.

Changes to the marine environment are caused by (over) fishing, land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation and introduction of marine pests. Only 1% of New Zealand’s marine environment has been surveyed.

A dedicated group of volunteers in Nelson is setting up Reef Check New Zealand as a non-profit environmental organisation with the aim to protect and help restore the marine environment. EcoDiver Trainer Jesus Ruiz Lopez is training the first 8 volunteers, with the aid of marine biologist Meagan Carter, tailoring the tropical Reef Check protocol to fit the unique New Zealand marine ecosystem.

If you would like to get involved with this new program, please contact Volunteer opportunities are available for both divers (PADI Advanced Diver or equivalent) and non-divers throughout the year.