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Marine Discovery

Facilitating Discovery of the Marine Environment

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. We offer hands-on marine education programmes for all ages and are responsible for 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.

People        TopButton

Sally Carson, New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Director

Steve Cutler, New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Educator (Secondary)

Shelley Dixon, New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Educator (Primary)

Richard de Hamel, New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Educator (Nelson & Marlborough region)

Tessa Mills, New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Manager

Adelle O'Neill, New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Curator

Current Projects        TopButton

Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom (LEOTC)

Exciting marine-theme education programmes varying in duration from 1 hour to 5 days. The primary programmes focus on discovery and development of the New Zealand Curriculum’s Nature of Science and the processes used by scientists to understand the ocean realm. Through shore studies, laboratory investigations and the opportunity to interact with live marine species, students are provided with a learning environment that cannot be created in the classroom. Access to the science expertise, specialized equipment and live animals are key to the secondary programmes success. This programme is supported by a Ministry of Education LEOTC contract.

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

Challenging hands-on experiences for talented students. Practical investigations are designed, carried out and reported on by small research teams under the guidance of post-graduate marine science students who encourage students to be practical with problem solving, and creative with science analysis and presentation.

Marine Metre Squared

This project will develop tools and skills for the direct involvement of communities in monitoring of the marine environment. Local communities will be able to assess change, monitor water quality and evaluate the success of the restoration effort. The protocols developed will raise awareness of marine biodiversity, and through increased partnerships between scientists, schools, community and Iwi groups, will lead to improved coastal management. This project is supported by the Ministry for the Environment Community Environment Fund.

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Seashore Guides

The Marine Studies Centre has produced illustrated guides to the common animals and plants living on the shores around New Zealand.  There are guides for rocky shores and also for sandy and muddy shores. Northern and Southern New Zealand guides are available, with the guides also translated into Maori.

Download seashore guides and other resources from our website:

Collaborations         TopButton

Ministry of Education

Supports the School Programme through a Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom Contract (2009-2013)

Ministry for the Environment

Supporting the Marine Metre Squared project through the Community Environment Fund (2012 – 2014).

Royal Society

Supporting the Science Teaching and Leadership teacher fellowships for projects at the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre such as Healthy Harbour Watch and Marine Metre Squared

NZ Association of Environmental Educators (NZAEE)

Annual Seaweek promotion.

Mobil Oil New Zealand

Funders of the Rocky Shore Guide, Rocky Shore Resource Books and Sandy and Muddy Shore Guide.

Opportunities        TopButton

Showcase your Research

Outreach is an important part of being a Marine Scientist – what is the point of your research if you don’t tell people about it? At the NZMSC there are opportunities for students and researchers to talk about their work, mount an exhibition or have a research poster on display. Please contact the NZMSC Director, Sally Carson, if you are interested.

Join the NZMSC email list

This email list is for people interested in news from the NZ Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium at Portobello, Dunedin, New Zealand. You will receive updates on activities, projects and marine and shore life….To see the collection of prior postings to the list, visit the NZMSC-Aquarium Archives.

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Volunteer Opportunities at the NZ Marine Studies Centre….

From time to time opportunities arise at the NZ Marine Studies Centre for volunteers to help with general animal husbandry and communication work or to take on specific projects. In order to keep a Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium going many different skills are required and you may be surprised to find out ways you can help us!

Please note that:
- Volunteer positions are unpaid.
- Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age.
- Volunteers must commit to at least four weeks full time or three months if working one day a week.

For further information contact

Selected Publications and Resources        TopButton

  • Probert, K, J. Jillett, S. Carson. 2005. Southern Seas, Discovering Marine Life at 46 South. University of Otago Press. Dunedin.
  • Rocky Shore Identification Guides (Northern and Southern), NZ Marine Studies Centre. 2009.
  • Rocky Shore Activity Guide. NZ Marine Studies Centre. 2011.
  • Who Eats Who? An educational activity book. NZ Marine Studies Centre. 2012.
  • Sandy and Muddy Shore Identification Guides (Northern and Southern), NZ Marine Studies Centre. 2014.
  • Mudflat Mysteries: An educational activity book. 2015.
  • Marine Life Database – further information about the species found in the southern ocean. See
  • Marine education resources (downloadable activities and information sheets) See our website: