Animal-dominated underwater gardens
Our mission for 2022-2023 is to explore, describe and map animal-dominated reefs in the Wellington Region, in New Zealand. We aim to provide the first scientific data on these habitats to support their long-term conservation. We also aim to promote the existence and importance of these reefs to the general public through the production of video and photographic material.
Many treasures to discover, many treasures to protect
New Zealand's waters are home to an incredible abundance and diversity of life. Yet much of New Zealand's marine biodiversity remains undescribed and unprotected.
During our explorations in the Wellington Region, we found incredible lush animal gardens. Most of these habitats are only known to a few locals and are not mentioned in scientific literature and environmental reports. This lack of knowledge limits our ability to protect these precious and fragile ecosystems.
In most of the sea, the light is too weak for algae to thrive. Thus most of the seabed is inhabited by animals, some of which live permanently attached to the seabed, as plants do on land.
Common organisms in these habitats are sponges, corals, anemones, bryozoans, ascidians and mussels.
These animals are filter feeders and feed on plankton and small particles found in the water column. They play an important role in keeping the water clean and providing food for other marine animals such as fish. In addition, like terrestrial forests, animal-dominated communities create habitats for a wide range of other organisms, increasing biodiversity and supporting marine productivity.