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Bay Watch!


Ben Noble

The cool sea air carried in on the southwesterly breeze this morning, brought with it the smell of salt and seaweed, inciting my anticipation for scouring the shoreline of this beautiful coast for invertebrates. I teamed up with Sabine and Orlando two specialist scientists and Valerie one other teacher.

We took a short drive from the caravan park to the beach and we watched as the scientists climbed into their waders, all the while thinking, firstly, "I wish I had brought my waders along" and secondly, "I wish I owned waders". Not to fear however, I still made myself as useful as could be and took the time to simply observe the professionals at their work; what an office to have!

We began walking along the sand avoiding the large mounds of seaweed and after a short time we came to a place where Sabine and Orlando showed us small invertebrates and fish amongst the dense undulating seaweed in the shoreline. It was a fascinating thing to behold, learning that these little critters, similarly to insects found on land, break down sea matter. I never knew such creatures existed.

We continued our walk, sauntering along so as to to miss any signs of invertebrate life. Sabine pointed out to us amateur scientists the clues in which show us where particular life may exist. Following these clues we found Bivalves (a Pipi like shellfish) and worms. I was most flawed that worms exist below the surface acting similarly to earth worms, breaking down plant matter!

The excitement did not stop there however as we discovered some rare specimens of worm and yabbie! This was cause for much celebration and considered a great success in the day. Inspired by these discoveries we were motivated to continue searching for more. And while our search for like worms and yabbies turned up no more we did stumble upon a Pebble crab, a cute little guy with a bulbous pebble shaped body and small legs and pinchers.

Excitement was reignited when we caught site of a small group of invertebrates dwelling on the surface just below the water line. We could not believe our luck, a party of 5 hermit crabs and a large snail congregating just below the water line of the ocean. Upon closer inspection we noticed a fleshy rubbery texture attached to each of their shells. I drew this to Sabine and Orlando's attention and they informed me that it was likely to be a sea anemone. Furthermore, that it is known that there can be symbiosis between the two organisms! this was very thrilling to behold.

So much had happened in such a short period of time and we started our way back to base camp for lunch. A successful morning and so much new learning for me!