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Kia ora kotou,

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read the first part of my blog series focussed on WAI Wānaka’s earlier contributions to understanding our Alpine Lakes. For this second blog, I’m going to touch on some recent research that has been happening within the Upper Clutha. This list is by no extent exhaustive, but highlights some key bits of work occurring.

Ash Rabel
Ash Rabel, WAI Wānaka’s Science Co-ordinator
Drifter device in Lake Wānaka
GPS tracked drogues – ‘drifters’. Photo credit: NIWA

Exciting new research

One of the projects that excites me the most is a study we have contracted NIWA to undertake: Roys Bay Hydronamic Observations. In plain speak, NIWA are dropping some GPS tracked drogues (like a sail for the water) which will map the flow directions of the surface waters of Lake Wānaka in Roys Bay under differing weather conditions. This is a great piece of research as there is little known about how water behaves in this part of the lake. Read our press release with more info here. Some more NIWA work of note is an update to the Lake SPI (submerged plant index) score of Lake Wānaka and Hāwea. 

Inspired students

There has been some great work by University of Otago students recently across a range of different disciplines. Lena Schallenberg has been looking into the picocyanobacteria species in Lake Wānaka. Oly Hall conducted numerous macroinvertebrate surveys across the near shore (littoral) environments of Lake Wānaka and Lake Whakatipu, investigating the impacts of stormwater on these communities. Tim Mueller carried out some work looking at the bully species (Gobiomorphus spp) in Lake Wānaka. Jason Augspurger investigated the lake populations of galaxiids and how they differ within the lake and from other waterway populations. 

Freshwater monitoring

ORC deserve a mention here, too. They have increased their number of freshwater monitoring sites within the Upper Clutha Lakes region, leading to a better understanding of our environmental challenges.

Volunteer efforts

Casey is volunteering to help WAI Wānaka with the PSP project down by the new lake shore boardwalk between Bullock creek and the Wānaka marina. She’s conducting macroinvertebrate surveys and measuring pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature in the littoral zone around the new plantings. She’s also helping to keep an eye on our temperature data loggers that are positioned around the larger waterways that are flowing into Roys Bay, helping to build a picture for NIWA’s hydrodynamic observation study. 

Casey putting in a data logger at Bullock Creek.

Clutha Flathead galaxias – image credit Rod Morris

Looking after our native fish

Last but not least, we at WAI, in partnership with ORC, DOC, and Fish & Game, are tracking down populations of the critically endangered Clutha Flathead for conservation efforts. A big part of this one will be reducing the ability of predatory fish to make their way up into these habitats and I’d love to thank (in advance) some amazing engineering students at  Otago Polytech who will be designing temporary fish passage barriers that we can modify and deploy in the field. 

Next time, join me for a quick look at future directions for research in this region. Kia pai tō koutou rā. 

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