Georgina Flowers / University of Waikato

NZ - Scientists Uncover Secret to Healthy Estuaries

University of Waikato marine scientists are researching the declining health of New Zealand estuaries.

The group of 15 PHD students hope their findings will contribute to national and worldwide efforts to monitor and improve estuary health.

Estuaries are where freshwater rivers meet the ocean, and where people live and visit.

The estuaries dotted along New Zealand’s coastline provide many economic and recreational opportunities like swimming, boating, sightseeing and collecting kaimoana.

Team leader of marine science and aquaculture professor Conrad Pilditch is supervising the research along with Professor Karin Bryan, Associate Professor Kura Paul-Burke, Dr Joanne Ellis and Dr Shari Gallop.

“Estuaries are fascinating places to study scientifically because they are so complicated,” says Professor Pilditch.

“There are a lot of different habitats and different things happening.”

But they are also difficult to manage.

“Because estuaries lie between the interface of the coast and the sea, they gain pressures from both areas, but they also slip between the gap of marine and freshwater management.

“People are not really sure if they are part of the freshwater system or if they are part of the marine domain. This makes it a complicated space to manage in terms of policy and legislation.”

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