Rebecca McLeod

Farewell for now - Science Life

Feb 01, 2011

You may have noticed that I have been a complete slacker with Science <-> Life lately. It seems life just keeps getting in the way and unfortunately the first thing to suffer has been my blogging efforts. I am about to go on maternity leave (less science, more life!) and so feel that now is the right time to shelve the blogging. I have really enjoyed this experience – a chance to write in a more relaxed style than I am used to, and a great excuse to read some science articles beyond those that I follow for work. Huge thanks to the SciBlogs team for your support, guidance and encouragement – you’re doing a great job! So, bye for now and thanks for reading! Rebecca … Read More

Life abounds deep in the Kaikoura Canyon - Science Life

Oct 27, 2010

Why are we humans trying to get to Mars when we still have so much exploring to do here on lowly old Earth?! Perhaps we know enough about our seas already? Well, recent findings of scientists from NIWA and further afield suggest otherwise. In a paper in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, these marine scientists report an incredible amount of life at the bottom of the Kaikoura Canyon – an undersea canyon just off the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Kaikoura Canyon plunges into the deep sea just meters off the Kaikoura Coast. Map: NIWA (http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/oceans/bathymetry) Using a combination of grab samples of the seafloor sediment, and footage from cameras towed along the bottom of the canyon, the scientific team were able to measure the number of invertebrates (worms, sea … Read More

New Zealand kelp forests under threat as total allowable catch limits announced - Science Life

Sep 24, 2010

I am still reeling from an announcement made yesterday by the Minster of Fisheries and Aquaculture Phil Heatley regarding the setting of the total allowable “catch” for giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). I thought I might try and calm down a little before I wrote this post, but the 20 or so emails that greeted me this morning from marine ecologists throughout the country made me realise that I am definitely not alone in feeling completely frustrated and disillusioned about the process of consultation and setting of catch limits for some of the species managed under the Quota Management System (QMS). Just a little bit of background first. Last year the Ministry of Fisheries, following a period of consultation, entered giant kelp into the QMS (I wrote about this at the time: “One step closer to harvesting kelp“). It … Read More

The science of counting whales - Science Life

Sep 14, 2010

Yes, that is what you think it is... loving in the deep south. Photo: Lesley Douglas One of the tasks facing the research team was to count the whales in the bay. Sounds easy enough… that is until you start to consider the logistics. There are a LOT of whales to count (this year there were around 200 in a bay that is about the size of Wellington Harbour). They spend much of their time underwater and even when they’re at the surface, not much pokes out. And, well they all kind of look the same (grey, whaley looking etc.). Perhaps now you can understand why the counting of whales has become a bit of a science in itself.

Media coverage of science — what is holding scientists back? - Science Life

Aug 24, 2010

I had my 10 minutes of fame last week as I was powdered up and thrust before the cameras for TVNZ7’s Media7 special on science and the media. A really fun experience, but there was some kind of weird time-absorbing phenomenon going on in the TVNZ studio that seemed to reduce my time to about 10 seconds. Before I went up to Auckland for the filming I dutifully did my research and went around talking to some scientists I know that have had a fair bit of media coverage. I asked them about their experiences, and why they think it is that journalists sometimes struggle with reporting science, and some scientists struggle with talking to the media. I got so much great information. And then managed to blather away my precious screen time talking about a potential market for … Read More

Conflict apparent on the West Coast as marine protection recommendations released - Science Life

Aug 15, 2010

...one of the coolest things about the proposed MPAs is their proximity to National Parks. All of the four proposed MPA sites are situated alongside National Parks, and this will provide for a continuum of protection from, in many cases, the tops of mountains, to the depths of the sea.

World Heritage Status: Added protection, or unintended destruction? - Science Life

May 18, 2010

Sometimes I curse being an environmental scientist. Particularly when I’m traveling overseas. While my fellow travelers gaze in awe at the natural wonders around them, I can’t help but see signs of pollution and degradation. I have just returned from a stint in Vietnam where I visited a World Heritage Area. It really got me thinking… When UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) awards World Heritage Status to a natural environment, tourist numbers soar. Visitors turn up expecting to find unparalleled beauty, and I suspect a pristine, possibly wilderness-type experience. Should these tourists come to Tongariro or Fiordland National Parks — the ’jewels in the crown’ of New Zealand tourism — they are likely to find exactly that. But is that the case at World Heritage sites in other parts of the world? At what point … Read More