The Department of Conservation (DOC) have recently received the finished biosystematics report from NIWA that documents the species richness of Sunday Cove, Breaksea Sound.
In July 2014 three specialist NIWA taxonomists conducted collections of algae, ascidians and sponges in Sunday Cove to create a comprehensive atlas of what is found there.
Sunday Cove was chosen because of the work that is currently underway by Environment Southland (ES), Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DOC, to rid the area of the invasive seaweed Undaria pinnatifida. It was thought that should the eradication attempt not be successful and Undaria starts to spread, it is really important to have some idea of what might happen to the biodiversity of the area and whether it changes or not. Also, by having a comprehensive list of species available any other unwanted pest or new species can be referenced to the atlas.
A total of 131 species were collected and photographed from the Sunday Cove area. Of the samples collected; there were 24 ascidian, 50 sponge species and 57 algal species. Many of the collections are undescribed, potentially new species and many others have not been found so far to the South.
DOC see the research as a vital step in understanding the flora and fauna of a small part of the fiords and as a live document, any subsequent species found will be added to the list. Hopefully in the future additional groups of species such as bryozoans can be collected.
Richard Kinsey, DOC Te Anau