By 3 News online staff
A new species of seahorse has possibly been found off the Northland coast by NIWA scientists.
Scientists have been surveying shallow water coastal habitats off the east costs of Northland and say they found a "rich diversity" of sea life including a rare fish species, a frogfish and shellfish beds.
Scientific identification is also underway on a brown, 3cm-long seahorse to determine whether it is a new species.
NIWA marine ecologist Dr Meredith Lowe says it could take some time to confirm the seahorse's identity and how rare it is.
Researchers used a small beam trawl research net with cameras attached as well as stationary cameras with and without bait.
Dr Lowe says the results of the survey help plug gaps in scientific knowledge around habitats created by plants and animals and their small fish inhabitants such as juvenile snapper.
"As living habitats, they are vulnerable to being damaged. Anything that reduces or eliminates these habitats will produce a cascade through the system, and may ultimately negatively impact the number of fish growing to adulthood, and hence fisheries production," she says.
The results are being used to build a national fish habitat classification and inventory of New Zealand's coastal and shelf zone.
The cameras provided scientists with a few surprises including a group of dolphins talking to each other as they examined the sampling net and a juvenile white shark bumping into the stationary camera's bait pot as it swam past.
source: newshub archive