This week a group of New Zealand marine scientists have sailed into the Southwest Pacific to begin documenting undiscovered marine plant and animal species in the area.

The expedition, led by Auckland Museum’s Head of Natural Sciences, Dr Tom Trnski, will visit remote areas around Noumea that have rarely, if ever, been surveyed before.

Trnski believes the expedition could find about 200 new species.

He says the pristine environments like the ones they will be visiting during the expedition can provide a vital reference in terms of what a naturally functioning ecosystem looks like in comparison to marine environments like the Hauraki Gulf, “which have been massively impacted by human habitation, fishing and pollutants”.

The six-week expedition starts in Southern New Caledonia and tracks through southern Fiji, Tonga and back to New Zealand via the Kermadec Islands.

The team includes research scientists from Auckland Museum, Te Papa, Massey University, and Conservation International.

Projects being carried out include a survey of predator numbers and a visual survey of whales in the region.

Newsroom will provide regular reports on the expedition including footage captured by the specialist underwater cameramen working alongside the scientists.

In this video interview, Trnski discusses the expedition and why it is important to have better knowledge on the current state of our oceans. (See video at top of story.)

Mark Jennings is co-editor of Newsroom.

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