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Wilma Blom

Position title:
​Curator of Marine Invertebrates
Natural Sciences
Contact Wilma

About Wilma

I have a broad-based background in the marine sciences, particularly marine geology and micropalaeontology, but also biology and marine ecology.

For the past 30 years I have worked in modern marine environments, from Bass Strait to coastal and estuarine locations. Much of my work has been on the identification of marine fauna and I have worked on a wide variety of taxonomic groups, from deep-water Antarctic octocorals, echinoderms and crustaceans to benthic estuarine fauna and the fauna that lives on kelp holdfasts.

I have been the Marine Invertebrate Curator at Auckland Museum since mid-2011, although I have worked at Auckland Museum, off and on, on a number of collections-based projects since the mid-1990s. The invertebrate marine collections at Auckland Museum consist of at least 150,000 specimen lots across more than 20 phyla. 

Research interests and projects

I am collaborating with Australian colleagues to document biogeographic patterns of molluscs which live in some of our common coastal seaweeds. This project looks at the distribution of these species in space and time, and how they interact with their environment.

I am also interested in taking science out of the Museum, making it more accessible to the community. I am the editor of, and one of the main contributors to, Auckland Museum's New Zealand Marine Life app. And I am the principal organiser of a 2-yearly BioBlitz partnership which aims to put scientists alongside communities to help them document the biodiversity of their neighbourhoods.

One of my current diversions is to capture the biodiversity of my own suburban backyard through Since I arrived in Auckland in 1971 it has become an ever larger, more sprawling city and I am interested in helping to document how Auckland nature has changed in response to intensification, species invasions and climate change.

Selected research projects

  • Blom, W. M. (ed.) (2015). New Zealand Marine Life Field Guide (Version 2.0). [Mobile Application Software]. 
  • Jocque, M and Blom, W. (2009). Mysidae (Mysida) of New Zealand; a checklist, identification key to species and an overview of material in New Zealand collections. i2304: 1–20
  • Krug, P., Morley, M., Asif, J., Hellyar, L. & Blom, W. (2008). Molecular confirmation of species status for the rare cephalaspidean Melanochlamys lorrainae (Rudman, 1968), and comparison with its sister species M. cylindrica Cheeseman, 1881. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 74: 267-276.
  • Anderson, M., Diebel, C., Blom, W. and Landers, T. (2005). Consistency and variation in kelp holdfast assemblages: spatial patterns of biodiversity for the major phyla at different taxonomic resolutions. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 320: 35-56.
  • Anderson, M., Connell, S., Gillanders, B., Diebel, C., Blom, W., Landers, T. and Saunders, J. (2005). Relationships between taxonomic resolution and spatial scales of multivariate variation in kelp holdfast assemblages. Journal of Animal Ecology 74: 636-646.

Explore the collection

Read articles by Wilma.

Toxic sea slug

The grey side-gilled sea slug is commonly found around New Zealand and south eastern Australia, and has also been reported from Japan and Sri Lanka. It has recently found to be deadly to humans and other animals such as dogs.

Bluebottle Physalia physalis

New Zealanders like to pride themselves on living in a country with no harmful animals such as poisonous snakes or grizzly bears. But it is a different story in the ocean.​

One journey never taken by Captain Scott

​It is the smallest of collection items, yet this scrap of paper is a profound reminder of the transitory nature of our lives. Marine invertebrates curator Wilma Blom discovered this unclipped rail ticket issued to Captain R F Scott in the Manuscript collection at Auckland Museum.