Seaweed recovery experiments

Before the earthquake, several reefs around the Kaikōura Peninsula and in the Cape Campbell area used to be covered by the seaweed Hormosira banksii (also known as Neptune’s necklace), but these lush algal forests were almost completely lost as a result of the uplift. It was shown by previous studies of MERG that these algal beds supported much of the biodiversity of intertidal reefs, which are now depauperate of other algae and small animals. We are now trying to aid the recovery of Hormosira by creating “oases” with shade and moisture in the middle of the hot, bare reefs. These are created by installing shade cloth canopies on top of water pools chiselled into the rock. We hope that they will gradually be colonized by Hormosira and that this could be a good starting point for this species to spread to wider areas of reef. This experiment was set up in December 2018 at Wairepo reef in Kaikōura (between Jimmy Armers beach and the seal colony on the northern side of the peninsula) and will be replicated at other sites if successful.

An ‘oasis’ installed on Kaikōura peninsula. Picture by Tommaso Alestra.

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