Day 5 - Our Mission Through The Mangrove Mud

Where was our bright, sunny morning today! There was a grey sky and a lot of wind instead. What happened to the promise from that famous Queensland Tourism slogan, Beautiful One Day, Perfect The Next. They’ve let me down!
Although, I think our Grade 5’s might be scratching their heads right now as this tourism campaign may have come out before they were even born. Anyway it doesn’t really matter if it rains because I’m dressed in my wetsuit and snorkel once again and I'll be getting wet anyway.
 
Today we headed out on the smaller research boat called Glaucus with Paul. He’s one of the expert seagrass scientist on this trip. Our job for today, seagrass mapping.
 
This means we got to dive off Glaucus, collect a sample of seagrass from the seabed, identify it and then work out the percentage of the seabed that was covered by the seagrass species we found. A lot of things to work out from a quick dive to the bottom of the sea, but my seagrass identification skills have come a LONG way since Day 1 of the trip. I will never look at it the same again!
The scientist use all this important data we collected to work out what seagrass species are around, how healthy it is and where it is located in the Moreton Bay.
 
Here are some of our seagrass samples.
 
seagrass id Seagrass samples  ID chart Seagrass I.D Chart    record sheetData Recording sheet
 
After getting some of the important seagrass work out of the way, it was now time to go on a bit of an adventure. We decided to explore a mangrove forest not far from the boat. Mangroves are really important habitats for fish and crabs. The fish shelter and feed off the roots when the tide is high and then head out to sea as the tide gets low. The crabs stay in the mud at low tide and bury themselves until the water runs back in again.
 
We decided to go at low tide, and jumped off the boat into what we thought was shallow water. It wasn’t, instead it was stinky mangrove mud and we sank to our knees. It was very difficult to walk through the thick mud to get to the mangrove forest because we kept sinking, so instead we slid across the mud on our stomachs.  
 
              muddy mangrove3         muddy mangrove          muddy mangrove 2 
 
When we got to the mangrove forest we heard lots of clicking sounds. Paul told us this strange sound was actually from shrimp in the mud that lived in little holes. We also found mud crab holes in amongst the mangrove roots. I always thought the mangrove roots that stuck out of the ground were hard and spiky, but they are actually very flexible. Lucky because it would’ve been a rather uncomfortable walk around the mangroves if they were hard and spiky!
 
                                                                                                                              The Mangrove forest with the spiky looking roots.
                                                                                                                            Thursday Mangrove 6
 
After our hard work, some of it from doing seagrass data collection but most of it from traipsing through mangrove mud, we headed to Velella for a well earned lunch. It was nice to relax on Velella, especially as the sun had now come out and it was turning out to be a perfect day after all.
 
This was followed by some more seagrass collecting from a beautiful place called Horseshoe Bay, I secretly took a break and decided to FaceTime our Grade 5’s instead! We were a little bit more remote this time so the phone reception wasn’t too great but I think they all got to see what Glaucus looked like and what we were doing on our seagrass adventures for the day.
 
Here's me on FaceTime with my Grade 5's on Glaucus!
facetime
 
To end the day we headed off to an area of Moreton Bay that Paul knew had plenty of the species of seagrass that Dugongs love. He’s collected a lot of seagrass data in his time so he would know! And the Dugongs did not disappoint us. This was our closest encounter yet. We saw four! 
Well actually I think it was just the one that kept teasing us by swimming under our boat and popping up in different spots! Still it was so lucky we got to see such a rare mammal.