Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Zealand's last frontier

A great start to the week: spent two days learning about the rich diversity of a region of New Zealand that many scientists consider to be the final frontier - the Kermadecs. I got the opportunity to attend a science symposium that brought together scientists and marine specialists from around the country to share their tales of exploration of this dramatic and surprising place.

I was surprised to learn that as much as 90% of New Zealand’s territory is below sea level. This makes it the fourth largest EEZ in the world!

The Kermadecs region is situated north of the two islands and runs along the edge of two plate tectonics: the pacific ridge and the Australasian ridge. When these two plates collide, they create an extremely volatile underwater ecosystem filled with deep crevasses and dozens of volcanoes. Many species pass through this region as part of their migration route; species such as humpback whales, sea turtles, and many types of shark. At this point, only segments of this region are protected under government legislation but the hope is that increased understanding and appreciation for the region will lead to better protection. If the Kermadecs are successfully recognized by governmental bodies for the value of their biodiversity and established as a Marine Protected Area, it will become the largest MPA in the world.

Learn more about this amazing region.

I wish I could say that I took the following pics but alas, they are borrowed. Still, they give a good sense of the beauty and richness that this region holds:

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