Fish, drone stars of show

Otago University PhD student Todd Redpath shows Jai (7) and Ashela Jackson, of Wanaka, a fixed-wing drone used to survey snow depths, at a Lab at the Lake family fun day on Sunday. Photo by Kerrie Waterworth.
Otago University PhD student Todd Redpath shows Jai (7) and Ashela Jackson, of Wanaka, a fixed-wing drone used to survey snow depths, at a Lab at the Lake family fun day on Sunday. Photo by Kerrie Waterworth.
A drone and several fish caught that morning in Wanaka's Bullock Creek were the big attractions at the ''Lab at the Lake'' fun day at Pembroke Park at the weekend.

Organiser Cynthia Lawrence said the University of Otago and Otago Regional Council used the event to showcase their latest research into the health of Lake Wanaka, to get feedback from the public about what future direction their research should take and to get kids interested in freshwater science.

''We wanted to show them live fish they might not normally see, insects that the fish eat, algae that the insects eat and the whole perspective of what's in their lake.''

A Trimbel UX5 Fixed Wing drone used by the University of Otago surveying and geography department was another of the hands-on exhibits.

PhD student Todd Redpath said the $50,000 drone was being used to measure the depth of seasonal snow in the Clutha catchment area.

''Measuring snow depth is fairly labour intensive and in New Zealand it really doesn't happen outside of the ski areas and Milford Sound.

''The drone can give us more detail than satellite imaging which we have used in the past,'' he said.

The drone was used just before winter, in August and in spring last year to map one square kilometre of Department of Conservation land in the Pisa range, near the Snow Farm.

Mrs Ashela Jackson of Wanaka, who brought her 7-year-old son Jai along to the free event, said it was ''amazing.''

''We try to teach our kids about science and why it matters but for them to come along and meet with scientists who work in the field and talk about what they're doing is fantastic.''

kerrie.waterworth@odt.co.nz

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