3D printer aims to save endangered fish

India Hamill holds a Lamprey & elver Photarium being used to measure a lamprey larva during a monitoring methods training workshop led by former NIWA Freshwater Ecologist Emily White (L). Photo: Marlborough District Council.

NIWA is using a 3D printer to help save New Zealand's endangered native fish.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has developed a Photarium with 3D printing to more safely identify and measure fish species in the waterways.

A Photarium is a small plastic rectangular box, with a clear side and built-in ruler, that allows small fish to be studied without being handled or taken out of water.

They currently are only made in the United States and do not ship to New Zealand.

With NIWA acquiring a new 3D printer, NIWA freshwater ecologist Peter Williams decided to develop his own.

Peter says he designed NIWA's Photarium based on the fish species in New Zealand's waterways.

"Many of our native species are climbing fish and the top part of the lid can be closed to stop the fish from jumping out. A mesh that's printed into this hatch cover allows us to top up the water level for better photography."

NIWA says Photarium will improve the accuracy of fish identification without harming the fish.

It is already has over 70 orders for its Photarium from regional councils, rūnanga, DOC, and education groups across the country.


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