Māra Moana – kelp reseeding trials underway in Whakaraupō Lyttleton Harbour

A push to restore native rimurimu kelp into Whakaraupō Lyttleton Harbour is progressing with experimental reseeding efforts now underway, taking lab-grown seedlings into the wild.

In collaboration with local iwi, the research team identified five sites around Lyttleton Harbour to trail reseeding, and have recently deployed ten seeded tiles and ten control tiles across all five sites.

The process involves fastening ceramic tiles, with healthy rimurimu seedlings growing on them, onto rocks. They’re then ferried out and positioned underwater. Ongoing monitoring, and more reseeding, will happen over coming months.

“This will allow an insight into whether growth can be achieved at the various sites,” says Matt De Roe, from Otago University.  “Our next reseeding will take place in early July, and hopefully again in October, so we can assess seasonal influence on outplanting success.”

“We are also working in the lab running experiments to screen populations for thermal tolerance. This is firstly being conducted on stock from Otago, and if successful we will look to use the same techniques on stock from Whakaraupō.”

The Māra Moana project, led by De Roe, is a collaboration between the University of Otago, hapū of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and made possible by the Centre of Research Excellence – Coastal People Southern Skies.

Live Ocean Foundation support for Māra Moana means the fieldwork teams, including local Ngāti Wheke divers, have costs including boat time and equipment for trial planting of rimurimu kelp in Lyttleton covered.

Learn more about the Māra Moana project.


.    Credit Matt De Roe. Māra Moana
Photo Credit: Matt De Roe

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