The aim of this project is to capture local knowledge on four coastal threatened species in Taranaki:
- orca/kera wēra,
- reef heron/matuku moana,
- little blue penguin/kororā and
- New Zealand fur seal/kekeno
The project team are using this information to better protect these species and their habitats.
The project is run through schools and supported by scientists and community groups, with the students designing the surveys, conducting the science and communicating their findings to end users. They are investigating these questions:
- Where are the hotspots for these species?
- Why do these hotspots occur?
- What are the greatest threats to these species and their habitats?
In order to protect these vulnerable species from potential threats, including loss of habitat and pollution, it is important to know where they occur and when. This poses a scientific challenge because traditional scientific surveys are not always effective at capturing robust distributions of rare organism observed infrequently.
The local community who visit the coast on a regular basis and observe distinctive threatened species are a great source of valuable information. Unfortunately this community-sourced information is often poorly documented, therefore students are capturing local knowledge by interviewing coastal recreational groups and users.
The research team will record sightings using online cloud-based data collection and mapping tools e.g. NatureWatch NZ and hotspots will be identified through analysing this data. This aspect of the project adds considerable IT learning elements and introduces students to New Zealand’s latest citizen science developments.
Students will then investigate why species hotspots occur where they do and what are the main threats to these species.
St Pius X School, Huirangi School, Manukorihi School, Mimi School, Urenui School, Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR), Taranaki Conservationists, MAIN Trust NZ, Taranaki Regional Councol, NatureWatch NZ, DOC, MetOcean Solutions.
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