Oregon State University research associate Nick Tufillaro
is part of a team of scientists studying images of
Dunedin's coastline taken from space. Photo by Linda
Images of Dunedin's coastline taken from a high-tech
camera aboard the International Space Station are giving
scientists a better of understanding of why the waters off
Otago Peninsula are so rich in marine life.
Oregon State University research associate Nick Tufillaro, in
Dunedin as part of a visit to the University of Otago, is
part of a team of researchers who are using the images to
examine marine ecosystems.
The images were taken over the past three years from a
first-of-its-kind camera called a ''hyperspectral imager for
the coastal ocean'', which was installed on the International
Space Station in 2009. Otago Peninsula was chosen as one of a
number of areas around the world to be part of the study
because it was so rich in marine life, Mr Tufillaro said.
The images gave insight into the area's marine ecosystem by
showing which parts were rich in chlorophyll - which gave the
water a wispy white colour in the photos.
The levels of chlorophyll were an indication of the amount of
phytoplankton in the water, which attracted fish, which in
turn attracted birdlife, he said.
Information from the images was then paired with data on
marine life gathered by scientists at Otago University to
give a ''full picture'' of marine life off the Otago
Mr Tufillaro hoped the research could be used to help
conserve unique marine environments, like Otago Peninsula,
around the world.
''We want to be good stewards of the environment and to do
that we need to understand what is going on.''
The camera would continue to be used to take photos of the
peninsula as long as it was still in operation.
Nasa had pledged funding until 2014.
Members of the public could help by taking photos of the
colour of the water off Otago Peninsula on days when an image
of the peninsula was due to be taken and then sending them to
firstname.lastname@example.orgPeople could find out when the peninsula was
next going to be photographed from the space station by
visiting the website: http://hico.coas.oregonstate.edu/schedule/schedule.php
and searching under ''BroadBay-NZ''.