Estuaries, as dynamic mixing zones between rivers and the ocean, play a crucial role in supporting some of the most productive ecosystems on earth. However, these vital environments are under threat due to increasing loads of sediment, nutrients, and pollutants entering them, resulting in significant changes.
As part of the MBIE-funded ‘Transforming Coastal Monitoring’ research programme, led by Dr Dana Clark, Michelle Scriver and Dr Ulla von Ammon went on another mission of eDNA outreach to the Otawhiwhi Marae in Tauranga Moana to showcase some of the eDNA tools developed in the Biosecurity Toolbox programme. The visionary project aims to develop cutting-edge eDNA indices for identifying estuary health, addressing critical issues such as the declining shellfish population and its profound impact on tangata whenua of the region.
Picture 1: Combined sampling forces for the ‘Transforming Coastal Monitoring’ programme.
The warm and welcoming embrace of Reon Tuanau and Garston Smith and their whanau awaited the scientists from Cawthron and Waikato University at the marae. Here, they were generously introduced to the intricacies of the local mahi (work) and engaged in enriching korero (conversations) about the whakapapa and also the practical application of research outputs.
Picture 2: The sampling team at the last day of the wānanga in Tauranga.
The wānanga (learning experience) was reflecting the profound connection between science and community. We embodied the spirit of collaboration, demonstrating that the preservation of estuary health transcends boundaries and is a collective responsibility.