ODT: A raft of research into marine species’ travels

John Gibb writes in the Otago Daily Times about New Zealand research showing the importance of floating kelp as ‘ocean rafts’ on which animals can travel across the ocean.

Research from the University of Otago examined bull-kelp which had washed up a Dunedin beach, and found that they had travelled from the subantarctic islands, as far away as 600km from the NZ mainland.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Kelp anchors itself to the sea floor with a hollow, root-like structure called a holdfast, which is also home to many marine organisms, including worms, sponges and crabs.

“When the kelp breaks off and floats away, the organisms go with it.

“Prof Waters said a wide variety of rocky-shore animal species were shown to raft with the kelp by clinging on, or by living within burrows and crevices in the “holdfast”.

“The St Clair beach finds involved the longest proven distance of ocean travel for animals hitchhiking on such naturally-occurring rafts.”