News: Queen's Birthday honour for Dr Wendy Nelson - Giant squid joins its colossal mate - Sobering news for beer drinkers

Wendy Nelson holds the bronze she received last year as part of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Award. (Photo: Alan Blacklock)

Queen’s Birthday honour for Dr Wendy Nelson

Wendy Nelson, an expert in marine macroalgae (seaweeds) and coastal ecology, was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the marine environment. This well-deserved award marks many years of distinguished algal research as well as her passionate advocacy for the marine environment, especially through her membership of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, where she has served for eight years.

Wendy, who is a science leader in aquatic biodiversity, is based at NIWA in Wellington. During her three decades of research, she has established a notable track record of publications, especially on algal biosystematics and taxonomy. Her publications reflect her strong links with researchers in other institutions, both in New Zealand and overseas.

NIWA also extends congratulations to Professor Martin Manning, for many years a science leader in climate research at NIWA in Wellington. Now at Victoria University of Wellington, Martin has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to climate change research.

For further information, contact:
Dr Don Robertson, 0-4-386 0572, d.robertson@niwa.co.nz

Giant squid joins its colossal mate

The giant squid lies on Tangaroa’s deck, shortly after it was trawled up from the depths. (Photo: Lindsay Battersby)

Te Papa’s now famous colossal squid has been joined by another frozen/thawed companion – a giant squid, netted by Tangaroa.

The giant squid (Architeuthis dux) was caught during a fish trawl off the Snares in 650 m of water during a 2007 subantarctic trawl survey. It is well travelled, as it stayed on the ship throughout the IPY Antarctic voyage and was only lifted out of Tangaroa’s freezer when the ship returned from that voyage in March 2008.

The squid is now at Te Papa and awaiting thawing, dissection, and/or display. The specimen is a very intact example, so it’s acceptable for Te Papa’s high-quality collection.

We believe the specimen is a female sub-adult (or juvenile), so by no means a fully grown adult. Giant squid this size are commonly caught and are thought to be about 1–2 years old, based on examination of the ‘rings’ in the statoliths, the animal’s balance organ.

These giant squid are so elusive, hardly anything is known about their natural history, and there is disagreement over how many species exist and how abundant they are, though they are thought to be widespread throughout the world’s oceans.Judging from squid beaks found in toothfish and whale stomachs in the Antarctic, it is apparent that they must be hugely abundant in the Southern Ocean.

They are fierce predators and are known to hang around areas of upwellings, such as seamounts, where they hunt their prey –mostly small fish and other squid.

For further information, contact:
Kareen Schnabel, 0-4-386 0862, k.schnabel@niwa.co.nz
Dr Lianos Triantafillos, 0-4-386 0517, l.triantafillos@niwa.co.nz

Sobering news for beer drinkers

In Auckland in April, NIWA climate scientist Jim Salinger delivered some sombre news to a convention of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling: in the decades to come, climate change will have serious effects on the cultivation of malting barley – a key ingredient in beer.

Warned Salinger, “It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up.”

Malting barley crops will be affected globally, but Salinger’s remarks were specifically about New Zealand and Australia. As soon as 30 years from now, rising temperatures and drier conditions could spell dramatic decreases of the crop in areas presently growing the grain – in Canterbury in New Zealand and in four states in Australia: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. The picture is less dire for New Zealand, however, as the same climate changes may render parts of Southland and Otago more suitable for growing malting barley.

Brewers in Australasia will face “a lot of challenges”,including the necessity of developing new strains of heatand drought-resistant malting barley, or varieties that can mature in a shorter season.

For further information, contact:
Dr Jim Salinger, 0-9-375 2053, j.salinger@niwa.co.nz