> nerd nite 34: so long, and thanks for all the fush

nerd nite 34: so long, and thanks for all the fush

Join us for the end of one era, and the start of another¬†ūüôā

Nerd Nite Wellington #34 poster

Poster! Click on the image to enlarge, print, and plaster over every surface.

As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, I’m proud to be handing the reins over to the community after more than 6 years as founder, organiser and host of Nerd Nite Wellington (the Southern Hemisphere’s first chapter).

The fabulous Dell Mitchell will be taking over from me, and I can’t wait to introduce her to you!

We’ve got 2 great speakers lined up for the evening – if you’d like to fill the 3rd spot, or say something,¬†please do give me a shout.

RSVP on Facebook by clicking on this link

We’ll be celebrating in a watery¬†fashion at:

  • Hotel Bristol (Cuba Street)
  • 6pm (speakers to start at 6:30pm)
  • Monday 19 September 2016.


Do porpoises dream of sheepshead fish?
Andrew Wright

All animals studied to date sleep. However, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) studied thus far engage in the unusual practice of unihemispherical sleep. This allows half of their brain to sleep at a time. Most study of sleep in cetaceans has occurred in captivity. However, tagging devices deployed on wild animals have now developed to the point where it is possible to investigate sleep in the wild. Stereotyped diving behaviour was identified in tag data from harbour porpoise that was deemed likely sleeping periods. Approximately half of these dives were silent ‚Äď unusual in a species thought to echolocate continuously. The porpoises were also much less active during these dives, which were almost always between 6 and 8 m of depth. If the data are representative, harbour porpoises may spend around 5 %, but up to 10 %, of their time (near) silent and potentially sleeping. This finding has implications for research studies using passive acoustic monitoring techniques, as well as efforts reduce incidental bycatch in fisheries.

The data does not yet provide an indication of what porpoises actually dream about.

Andrew¬†Wright¬†is a British marine biologist that has been working on the science-policy boundary around the world for over a decade. His experiences have led him to champion a better communication of science to policy makers and the lay public. His research has included analyses of sperm whales and harbour porpoise bioacoustics, the impacts of noise on various marine mammals and an exploration of how stress responses are reflected in cetacean skin. He is also investigating sleeping behaviour in harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin –¬†some of which he is presenting today.¬†Andrew¬†is currently working to update the New Zealand Code of Conduct¬†for Seismic Surveys for the Department of Conservation. He is also spearheading efforts to bring more marketing techniques into conservation outreach, including introducing conservation to sci-fi fans through the Facebook page Vaquita Are Browncoats.

Fish, rock, space & time
Eric Edwards

Alpine galaxias are an inter-mountain fish native to rivers of South Island basins and valleys east of the Main Divide.  They live in rivers from Marlborough to Southland but are absent from the centre of Otago. There is no certain explanation based on hard evidence to explain this absence.  But what evidence there is from geography and geology makes a good story.

Eric Edwards is an entomologist (& former freshwater biologist) based in Wellington.  He works on pest control & ecosystem conservation for Department of Conservation and among Pacific Islands.  For over a decade he has been involved in assessments for land protection in the South Island high country.



As always, NNW is free and open to everyone*. Bring your friends and family ‚Äď someone to share a meal with, definitely, as there are some great 2 for 1 specials on the menu.

* Who behaves themselves, of course. Naughtiness will be stamped on. Hard.

Read our Code of Conduct


I’ll still be around! But I’ll be focusing on other projects, including working to create and encourage a civic technology movement in New Zealand and taking over as national coordinator for GovHack NZ. For those who were at Nerd Nite #33 – that’s the sort of thing I’m doing.

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