Marine biologists are unsure whether the Kaikoura reef will ever recover from "shocking damage".

A 110km stretch of the Kaikoura Coast was uplifted following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on November 16, 2016 - killing off species and damaging the coastline irepairably as parts of it rose up to 6 metres.

The reef is now only under water for about four hours a day leaving some of the marine species to dry up under the sun, and instead becoming home to an abundance of green algae - a sign of an unhealthy ecosystem.

In the latest Christchurch Dilemmas episode, University of Canterbury marine ecology researchers Shaw Gerrity and Tommaso Alestra share how they are working with the Ministry of Primary Industries to monitor what is happening to the marine life.

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The seabed lifted above sea level photographed immediately after the Kaikoura earthquake. Photo / Lou Gordon Green, Twitter
The seabed lifted above sea level photographed immediately after the Kaikoura earthquake. Photo / Lou Gordon Green, Twitter

Gerrity, a research technician, said there had been a really dramatic uplift where the large sub-tidal reefs had completely lifted out of the water.

"It was shocking. We've never seen anything of this scale.

"How long are they going to take to recover, to the point where it could sustain the recreational fishery? We don't know yet."

Alestra, a post-doctorate researcher, said the coastlines had changed a dramatically and a lot of species had been killed off.

Researcher Tommaso Alestra is unsure whether the Kaikoura coastline will ever recover, saying it
Researcher Tommaso Alestra is unsure whether the Kaikoura coastline will ever recover, saying it "could take years" if it did. Photo / Alan Gibson.

Crayfish and seals had survived, while gulls were one of the few benificiaries from the quake and had feasted on limpets resulting in an increased body weight and a second clutch of eggs being produced.

"There have been massive die-offs of many species and it's quite sad because they are bare and empty now. I hope they can little-by-little recover and come back to what they used to be like," Alestra said.

Bull kelp had been among the most harmed by the quake and this had a knock-on effect because many other species relied on it survive. Other species had also disappeared because they could not withstand the heat or being relocated.

"Life is hard for many without blue kelp."

About 20 per cent of the adult blackfoot paua had been destroyed and only a small handful of offspring had been found - enforcing the importance of the ban on collecting paua until they knew more.

Alestra said he was unsure whether the coastline would ever recover and "could take years" if it did.

A 110km stretch of the Kaikoura Coast was uplifted following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on November 16 last year, killing off species as parts of the coastline rose up to 6 metres. Photo / Supplied
A 110km stretch of the Kaikoura Coast was uplifted following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on November 16 last year, killing off species as parts of the coastline rose up to 6 metres. Photo / Supplied