Thursday: Mangrove Madness!

Today we continued our seagrass mapping of the bay, this time from the boat “Glaucus”.  I am now able to identify a number of different seagrass species, which makes things much easier for me, particularly when I’m the person writing all of the seagrass species down on the data sheet. 

Here is a photo of some seagrass that I took whilst looking at species under the water:

Thursday Seagrass 2

We had lots of interesting discussions about the types of seagrass we were finding on our dives and thinking about the reasons why it grows differently in various parts of the bay.  We also discussed the impact that the 2011 floods had on the seagrass in the bay.  It was really fascinating.  Here is another sample of seagrass species “Halophila spinulosa”:

Thursday Seagrass

After seagrass mapping in the morning we went for a walk in some mangroves.  They are such important ecosystems and quite visually interesting places as you can see in this picture:

Thursday Mangroves 1

I hadn’t walked through mangroves before so I was really looking forward to it.  I also didn’t realise how difficult it would be to actually get into the mangroves!  We had to commando crawl in our wetsuits over (and through) sticky thick mud in water that was only about 10-20cm deep.  We tried walking but it was almost impossible as the mud was so thick, deep and sticky.  It was coming up to our knees!  Here is a picture that shows how thick and sticky the mud was:

Thursday Mangrove 5

Here I am trying so hard to get ashore commando crawling through the mud.  It was like bootcamp:

Thursday Mangrove 3

When we finally made it into the mangroves it was well worth it.  Paul who was a researcher on the boat (4EB will remember Paul who showed them the seagrass samples on Skype today) talked to us about the different trees in the mangroves and some of the creatures that live there.  There was a “grey mangrove” tree that is able to live in salty conditions as it excretes salt out of its leaves.  I tasted one of the leaves and its no surprise that yes, it was salty!  This is a picture of the grey mangrove - apparently there are some growing along the Yarra River in Melbourne:

Thursday Mangrove 7

 The whole time we were in the mangroves we heard random clicking noises which were prawns and crabs.  I was able to see a couple of really small crabs which were pretty cute.  After our walk we commando crawled back to the boat and continued seagrass mapping.  After more seagrass mapping in the afternoon we went dugong spotting and managed to see a really large dugong a little way out from the boat and also a few turtles.  Another fantastic day!! 

Tomorrow I am back on the large catamaran “Velella” which I am really looking forward to: