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Catriona Hurd.
Dr Catriona Hurd

Marine Biology

Marine botanist and senior lecturer Catriona Hurd is passionate about seaweed, and keen to share her knowledge.

"Seaweed in New Zealand has not been studied much," she says, "and there are many exciting questions that need answering."

On a recent trip to Fiordland her students discovered six new species of seaweed and 20 others that are not yet named. In Doubtful Sound they found 130 species where only eight had been recorded previously.

"Otago has some unique seaweed, including the bull kelp durvillaea. For where it lives on the seashore, it's the biggest seaweed in the world. It's endemic here, but there's a global question: how can it grow so massive in such a wave-swept environment?"

Hurd came to Dunedin after a BSc in Liverpool, UK, a PhD in Belfast, Ireland and postdoctoral research in Vancouver, Canada.

"I have to work somewhere that has cold sea water - I can't work in the tropics because there are no large seaweeds."

"I wanted to live somewhere smaller than Vancouver but somewhere that has wild blue yonder, wilderness, wonderful wildlife, exciting seaweed and interesting flora."

"Dunedin is smaller and has a reputation for being friendly, and it has this great seaweed."

Hurd researches marine plants, studying nutrients, growth rates, the effects of wave action, their relationships with marine animals, and what they need to grow.

"Dunedin has a unique, beautiful environment. I love living by the sea, I love the research, and I like being able to go out to ask questions and have the tools to answer them."

"It's great to be able to pass on this knowledge to new students and give them the opportunity to share what I really enjoy."