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8 February - 22 March 2024

Bounty Trough


The Ocean Census – Bounty Trough research cruise is a 21-day expedition and workshop exploring one of the most remote parts of the deep ocean.

Led by Ocean Census, The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, a team of scientists will spend 21 days investigating the unexplored Bounty Trough ocean system off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Departing from Wellington, New Zealand onboard R/V. Tangaroa, our goal is to find out more about this under-explored area, with an ambition to sample down to an incredible 5,000 metres. The Bounty Trough is a mid-cretaceous rift basin bounded on the north by the Chatham Rise and on the south by the Campbell Plateau.

Through its center runs the 800km long Bounty Channel in depths of 1,500–5,000 m. The Bounty fan extends down to nearly 5,000 m towards the Southwest pacific abyssal plain.

The expedition has been co-developed with host nation partners and will include consultation with and the participation of scientist institutes across New Zealand, and support from Ngāi Tahu, the principal Māori iwi (tribe) of the South Island, NIWA and the Te Papa Museum.

A taxonomic workshop will also take place following the cruise, to aid the accelerated species discovery. Post expedition, the collection will be curated at NIWA and Te Papa Museum.

This expedition has been funded by Ocean Census, with co-funding provided by NIWA through the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).

Images with thanks to: Rob Stewart, Peter Marriott, Dave Allen, Stuart Mackay and NIWA.

Latest news

Voyage Update #3

Sampling down to 4,800 metres, sea pigs, gummy squirrels, bad weather and unfathomable pressure, a sighting of a rare ghost shark, and a conversation with colleagues in the Antarctic in our third and final voyage blog.

NIWA Expedition Co-Lead, Sadie Mills, shares the final update from the Ocean Census-Bounty Trough research cruise before the shore based workshop begins.

Read more

Related news

Mission Objectives

Combining multi-disciplinary research, species discovery, knowledge exchange and public engagement.

  • Science

    Investigate the infaunal diversity in continental shelf and slope habitats at the head of the Bounty system (canyons, pockmarks), the Bounty Channel, and adjacent slope, the Bounty Fan, and abyssal plain. Investigate the epifaunal invertebrate and fish diversity of seamount, canyon and pockmark habitats, and along the Bounty Channel and adjacent slope. Investigate bait-attracted invertebrate and fish faunal diversity in the Bounty Trough area.

  • Species Discovery

    Collect and identify specimens across a range of taxa that are, or are likely to be, species new to science, as decreed by a relevant scientific expert.

  • Co-Production

    Co-develop a project and co-disseminate knowledge and create an accessible collection of specimens, to be held by Te Papa, as custodians of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand that will lead to a full new species description.

  • Knowledge Exchange

    Promote cross-training in at-sea field skills including the deployment of a wide range of equipment; co-develop a workshop with local experts to increase knowledge of marine diversity; provide opportunities for Early Career Researchers; and encourage future collaboration between science participants.

  • Public Engagement

    Media engagement and regular published updates will help to shine a light on the importance of ocean life in the area and inspire the public and our key stakeholders.

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