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Marine Science Research Themes

Antarctic Science

Antarctica is the engine room of the World’s climate, and harbours life that has adapted to extreme changes in the environment. Researchers at Otago University are working to understand how the Antarctic climate functions, the special adaptations of Antarctic species to their cold environment, and how the Antarctic ecosystem functions in terms energy flow and trophic complexity. Much of our research helps us to understand how the Antarctic will response to climate change processes.

Biology and Conservation of Marine Mammals


The coastal waters of New Zealand are home to a diverse range of marine mammal species, many of which are threatened by anthropogenic impacts. Our research group is dedicated to studying the ecology of these populations and applying this knowledge to conservation management. We use established and innovative research techniques, specialising in quantitative surveys of abundance and distribution, photo-ID, population modelling, acoustics and photogrammetry.

Changing Southern Seas


If there’s one thing the sea does, it’s change. It always has, and it always will. As the atmosphere changes, so does the sea. As the tectonic activity in the centre of the Earth changes, so does the sea.
Managing and Conserving Marine Resources
Greater scientific understanding of marine ecosystems is critical to halt the loss of key values and ecosystem services provided by our oceans. We are developing scientific tools and understanding to support the conservation and long-term sustainable use of marine ecosystems and resources.

Managing and conserving marine resources

Greater scientific understanding of marine ecosystems is critical to halt the loss of key values and ecosystem services provided by our oceans. We are developing scientific tools and understanding to support the conservation and long-term sustainable use of marine ecosystems and resources.

Marine Discovery


The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre is the public face of Marine Science at the University of Otago. We explain and explore marine science, current research and conservation issues. In our research aquarium we reveal the mysteries of the southern ocean. We offer hands-on marine education programmes for all ages and are responsible for recruiting and inspiring many future marine scientists! Our mission is to foster understanding and appreciation of New Zealand's unique marine environment and responsibility towards its conservation.

Marine Ecosystems


The Marine Ecosystems research group is uniquely placed on the South Island, New Zealand, with access to a broad range of habitats from tropical to polar as well as facilities including ocean-going vessels and research laboratories. As a consequence much of the work that we do takes advantage of environmental gradients to resolve basic structural features of ecosystems and underlying processes.

Ocean Physics


Ocean physics studies the mechanics of the marine environment. Our current research includes secondary currents in curved flows, ocean waves generated by atmospheric pressure disturbances, interpolation of ADCP velocity data, modeling of estuarine flow, and tidal turbine farms.

Shelf and Deep Sea Systems


Seabed habitats of the continental margin are remarkable for their invertebrate biodiversity. Nearly every animal phylum is found here, and ranging from large colonial animals that live attached to the seabed surface to minute worms burrowing into the sediments below. These organisms comprise integral components of shelf and slope ecosystems.