2018 Recipient – McKenzie Tornquist (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa)

The silvery bulbous eyes of the common triplefin closely follow McKenzie Tornquist, recipient of the 2018 Kevin Smith Memorial Scholarship, when she explores the shallow rocky reef of Taputeranga Marine reserve.

McKenzie studies the common triplefin (Forsterygion lapillum), a small temperate reef fish found widely distributed along the coast of New Zealand as an example of a fish with male parental care. The males are very territorial as they guard their nest of eggs from predators and even turn from their usual sandy brown and black stripes to completely black over the summer months!

By comparing female mate choice and nest quality both in the Taputeranga marine reserve and along the Miramar peninsula McKenzie investigates whether marine reserves provide better resources (nests) for the common triplefin and in turn affect breeding success. McKenzie’s study could also help with fisheries management of commercial fish stocks by determining how to improve productivity such as ensuring high quality habitats.

The Kevin Smith memorial Scholarship awarded by the Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve supported this project with funding over 1,000 NZD for research equipment, such as the equipment needed to prepare and analyse the microstructure of fish otoliths (fish ear bones which you can use to age fish!), and boat/car usage.

If you like to make a difference and support our scholarships and community education & outreach events in Taputeranga Marine Reserve consider a donation to the Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve Trust.