informing decision makers

Using citizen science to better protect coastal threatened species If we know more about where coastal threatened species occur we can use this information to better protect them. Elise Smith, Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society

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Using citizen science to better protect coastal threatened species

If we know more about where coastal threatened species occur we can use this information to better protect them.

Elise Smith, Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society

A success storySignificant discoveries:• Species distribution is now better understood – and not just the 4 ‘Hotspot’ species,

but rare visitors and pest species• We have new information about animal behaviour patterns and preferred habitats• Some threats to these species have been identified

Action:• School action projects were undertaken to mitigate threats• Informed decision-makers are making changes• Collecting and sharing data online on endangered coastal species and the threats.

Citizen science - Informing decision makers

The citizen scientists

• Schools

• RSNZ Science Teacher Leadership teachers

• Sea Week participants

• Port Taranaki staff members

• Photographers

• People out walking

Orca, herons, penguins and sealsFacts recorded in “Hotspot”

• Location and time of observation

• Number observed

• Age and sex if known

• Activity

• Threats to the species

• Photos

Citizen science - Informing decision makers

Ecological alarm bells – can we be sure that the data collected is of

scientific value? • Is the data of sufficient quality

to accurately identify the species?

• Is the data verifiable? • Is the data in a format that may

be analysed?

• Photographs of sightings are encouraged for confirmation by NatureWatch experts

• Level of competence recorded

• The iNaturalist/Naturewatch database allows data retrieval for analysis

Species data

Heron SightingsWhy is Port Taranaki a heron Hotspot?

Have you got a hunch?

What actions can you take?

Local information is necessary for

Citizen science - Informing decision makers

• Informing local government policies, plans and by-laws.

• Better protection of threatened species

• Advising resource consents for subdivision and impacts on migratory and resident organisms

• Monitoring the spread of pest organisms

• Understanding the spread of naturalised organisms

Citizen science - Informing decision makers

The decision makers• Oil spill response team• Dog control officers• Storm water engineers• Council enforcement officers• Fish and Game officers and

hunting clubs• Port officials – environmental


• Department of Conservation• Regional and District Council

Statutory Planners• Consent officers and Planners• Oceanographers – prediction

and evidence• Academic researchers• Industry

Citizen science - Informing decision makers

Using the data• Analyse the data to see if there are

patterns in season, site, behaviour

• See if you can confirm any hunches

• Make data widely available


Photos : Emily Roberts






Threats to endangered species: RefuseIs the composition of marine litter on Taranaki beaches similar to that found internationally?

• Oakura School and Highlands Intermediate visited Tapuae Marine Reserve• Bell Block Beach clean up• Waitara Beach clean up

Plastic shotgun wadsAction Project: Survey the composition of marine litter in the Tapuae Marine Reserve Findings: Plastic shotgun wads were found, and their construct provided clues to their origins.MetOcean Solutions oceanographic modelling tracked the litterRecommended Actions: Work with Fish and Game to reduce the number of plastic shotgun wads entering the marine environment.

MetOcean Blog

Parking ticketsAction Project: Are plastic parking tickets less likely to break down than paper parking tickets? Do plastic parking tickets pose a threat to species in the Tapuae Marine Reserve?Findings: Tapuae Marine Reserve had plastic parking tickets on the beach. These are not biodegradableRecommended Actions: Work with New Plymouth District Council to find alternatives – e.g. online payment

Orca• Pods of orca are sighted several

times a year in Taranaki coastal waters• Now we are excited to share their

locations by mobile phone and Facebook• Photos with the fin shape enable us

to identify individuals and track them – nationally valuable records• See the animation of their progress

along the coast on Waitangi Day 2016

Animation of Orca sightings on Waitangi Day 8 Feb 2016

Kaweroa, New PlymouthWaitemata harbour

Port Taranaki

June 2016

Urenui Seawall and penguins

July 2016

Sept 2016

Penguin records for UrenuiLocal spatial and temporal data

Consent Conditions Agreed by DOC

• Hours of work • Daily inspection: Non-nesting birds may be moved to a safe

nest box. • Access to breeding sites. • An escape route for the penguins shall be provided if

necessary to leave open overnight. • A form of access should be restored where the steps were

located • Penguin nests

Resource consents• How good is the data that ecologists

have?• In a recent New Plymouth sub-

division hearing, the Hotspot Project contributed evidence of 16 ‘threatened’ or ‘at risk’ species, not known about by the contracted ecologists. The area is to now have a covenant forbidding cats and dogs.• Evidence of the pest Rainbow Skink

was important in setting consent conditions

Some champions• Port Taranaki – using species data to advise

resource consents• New Plymouth District Council

- dog control signage, resource consents, Waitara Live Plan, District Plans , parking

• Taranaki Regional Council- informing consents and Regional Plans

• Schools, youth clubs – education and fun• Massey University research in penguins

Citizen science - Informing decision makers


Citizen science - Informing decision makers

Emily Roberts (Project Hotspot Lead, Marine Ecologist TRC, NMMRS)Elise Smith (Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society, MAIN Trust NZ)Shane Orchard (Environmental Scientist, NatureWatch NZ)Pat Swanson (Experiencing Marine Reserves, Highlands Intermediate)Joshua Richardson (Project Hotspot Coordinator South Taranaki)Hannah Hendriks (Marine Species Technical Assistant DOC)Callum Lilley (Senior Ranger – Marine DOC)Halema Jamieson (Ecologist TRC)Mariana Horigome (MetOcean Solutions)

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ‘Curious Minds’ funding made this project possible

Allen Stancliffe (Fish and Game NZ)Denise Rowland (Partnership Ranger/Education DOC)Mike Tapp (Partnership Ranger/Education DOC)Raewynne Niwa (Education & Schools Partner)Gillian MacKay (Oakura School)Brent Dunnet (Spotswood College)Leesha Clark (Matapu School)Shakira Derbyshire (Auroa School)

Thanks to the Hotspot Team

… and many, many keen citizen scientists for data and photographs