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Kaikoura reefs still rich in species

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/12/2016

The Kaikoura peninsula's altered reefs remain rich in marine species after November's big earthquake, Canterbury University scientists say.

Their positive assessment comes after their latest investigation of the effects of the magnitude 7.8 quake on the coast.

Marine biologist Dr Sharyn Goldstien says this week's spring tide had given her and her colleagues the chance to explore both familiar and new areas.

"With every boulder turned and every crevice eyed, we found live individuals of species that have recently been reported as dead or missing in action," she said.

"Yes, the uplift from the earthquake has had a significant impact on many coastal species. However, the peninsula remains a place of high species richness."

Dr Goldstien said biodiversity included measures of both species richness (how many species are present) and abundance (how many individuals of each species are present).

The abundance of species was yet to be determined, but "we were very encouraged by the richness we observed".

She said the quake had greatly altered rocky reef platforms.

"In some areas, broad platforms once covered in marine life are now covered in decaying seaweed and empty shells of limpets discarded after seabird feasts," she said.

"However, new platforms are now open to be explored and are full of life, currently adjusting to the new tidal regimes and altered water flow."

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