10 May to 8 June 2003

NORFANZ was a joint Australian-New Zealand research voyage carrying leading Australian, New Zealand and other international scientists to explore deep sea habitats and biodiversity in the Tasman Sea. The scientists explored deep sea habitats around seamounts and abyssal plains around Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands through to northern New Zealand.

Australia’s National Oceans Office (now part of the Environment department) and the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries each committed half a million dollars to the four-week voyage.

The RV Tangaroa's nets, used to sample animals from the water column

The RV Tangaroa's nets, used to sample animals from the water column

The voyage collected biodiversity samples, DNA tissue samples, seabed habitat data, photographs and video on seamounts at depths between 200 metres and 1.2 kilometres, and surveyed free-swimming animals that live in the water masses above and around these seamounts.

The main objective of the expedition was to provide baseline information on the nature and potential vulnerability of these unique habitats and their biodiversity. The results have given us a much better understanding of the species that live on and around the deep seamounts and ridges throughout the Tasman Sea.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation  (CSIRO) and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd  (NIWA) provided scientific support for the voyage. The NORFANZ voyage used NIWA deep-sea research vessel, the R.V. Tangaroa .

The expedition received considerable interest from scientists worldwide. Twenty four scientists from more than eleven research organisations were represented onboard, including staff of CSIRO, Hobart; Museum Victoria; the University of Tasmania; Australian Museum; Queensland Museum; Northern Territory Museum; NSW State Fisheries; Te Papa, Wellington; National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand; Institute de Recherche pour le Développement, Noumea; Natural History Museum, Paris; and California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

You can read the voyage diary, find out about the participants, discover some of the weird and wonderful creatures features found, and peruse the factsheets and the report about the voyage.

A long-nosed chimaera

A long-nosed chimaera

NORFANZ Factsheets

National Oceans Office 2003
These factsheets were written for the media before the NORFANZ voyage left to explore the lost worlds of the deep in May 2003.


Deep-sea corals photographed using the Photosea camera - it is lowered from the ship to depths of up to 6km