Tuesday, 28 February 2017 11:42am
The Marine Science Aquavan was unveiled yesterday, aptly, on the first day of both Seaweek and the Marine Science annual postgraduate orientation week. New Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Richard Barker did the honours – not by cutting a ribbon or popping a bottle of champers as is the norm, but by throwing a bucket of sea water over the van – very fitting!
In her opening address, Sally Carson, director of the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre stressed that “although the van is not a replacement for the aquarium, it is none-the-less a ‘superb resource for the centre, department and the University’ overall”.
The colourful van, artwork designed by former Aquarium intern Corlis Schneider and equipped with chilled recirculating seawater tanks, means staff and students can transport marine specimens for research and teaching purposes. It also allows for collection from sites further afield and multiple sites over a period of time. “The regulation of the environment will decrease the stress on the animals being transported and ensure the University meets current best practice standards for animal care” Sally explains.
Portobello staff, Adelle O’Neill and Dave Wilson were the brains behind the fit-out and along with the crew from Dunedin Motor Homes, have created a unique resource. “There was no manual to help produce this fantastic resource – it required considerable planning, thought, trial and error mixed in with a bit of Kiwi ingenuity” she reflected. Sally made special mention to the Division of Sciences for providing funding towards the van, and Professors Abby Smith and Keith Hunter for supporting the vision.
Dependent on funding, the Centre plans to use the van for community outreach initiatives for part of each year, when not being used for university research and teaching. The Aquavan will provide inland schools and communities with opportunities to encounter the diversity of marine flora and fauna. These encounters will provide stimulus for discussion and activity around environmental issues. Led by marine educators and scientists, the programmes offered by the NZ Marine Studies Centre provide opportunities for youth and the wider community to develop science skills and take part in environmental action that will lead to a better understanding of the wider marine ecosystem.