By Alison Ballance
Stephen Keable (left) sieves seawater to collect plankton (centre), and Mandy Reid photographs a large octopus (all Kermadec images: A. Ballance)
Mandy Reid and Stephen Keable are marine invertebrate specialists with the Australian Museum. As many of the creatures they were collecting are very small, they focused their efforts on collecting habitats and substrates such as hard corals, algae, rubble and sediments. However, they also turned up larger invertebrates such as sea hares and octopuses. Alison Ballance caught up with them a few times after dives to find out what collecting techniques they were using and what treasures they were finding. On their return to the museum the samples will be sorted, and any invertebrates sent to the appropriate specialist for identification, so it might be more than a year before they know how many species were collected and whether there are new records and even possibly species new to science discovered at the Kermadecs.