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Gumboot Nation: Mapping the eelgrass of Area D

Also, add some punch to your jam and Creek Daze volunteers sought
roberts creek-COLUMN

Greetings Creekers! 

Weddings and a family visit from far away meant I have missed the last couple of columns. The family members left yesterday afternoon and I just got a video call and there they are eating breakfast in Japan. I know about flying around the world but honestly it seems like a miracle that I just can’t quite get my head around. I find myself in a stunned state. Were they really here? Well apparently they were and one of the things we did was enjoy a fabulous day on the sandy beaches of Thormanby Island where of course I went in the water and when I did I found myself swimming through eelgrass. This is usually a squeamish experience I avoid (who knows what could be lurking around in it?) but this time I thought about how important it is and allowed myself to enjoy the sensation. Some of you know Dianne Sanford. Dianne is a marine biologist and long time Creeker responsible for turning many of our children on to the wonders of tidal pools and salmon spawning back when she ran school programs at RCCES. She recently sent me the following piece about mapping eel grass that I think you will find interesting:

Some of the shoreline residents of Roberts Creek, visitors to the Creek beaches, and local beach walkers may be wondering what the boat that has been zig-zagging just off shore the past few weeks has been up to.

The appearance of this boat with the skipper calling out numbers and the person in the back of the boat with their head shrouded in a large scarf which was draped over a tote, must have been a curious sight. The skipper is calling out depths taken with the depth sounder on the boat, and the person with the scarf is peering into the screen of an underwater camera to watch for the presence of eelgrass. 

Eelgrass is the long, ribbony, true plant (not an algae like other seaweeds) that lives in the intertidal areas of our shorelines, just below the zero tide line. It provides oxygen, shelter for a myriad of marine species, (including salmon that are heading out to sea), food for marine and land species, and a nursery, as well as filtering the ocean waters of sediments and pollution, and stabilizing the marine substrate. A truly amazing, and very important plant!

The two seafarers were, and still are, mapping the eelgrass that grows just offshore of the beaches along our coastline. Days must be calm to allow conditions for mapping, and visibility clear enough to enable the camera to view the eelgrass which usually occurs, in Roberts Creek, just beyond the intertidal rocky shore where the sands start.

Eelgrass has been disappearing at an alarming rate in our waters, and has not been mapped in Area D since 2008, so it will be interesting to see what we find. 

Thanks go out to the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and the SCRD for making this possible. For  more information contact diannesanford@gmail.com.

I hope this article will prompt some of you to find out more about eelgrass and that it contributes to an increased awareness of its importance.

So this leaves me with not much room for the entertainment side of things but here’s what you can do. Head down to the store and read the bulletin board. There is just so much happening out there! Theatre, art, slow food tours, and music everywhere. There is something for everyone and a lot of it is free. 

Speaking of good, free things the blackberries are coming! Here’s a couple of tips:

1. If you like to make jam but want to kick it up a notch, try adding a teaspoon or two of cracked black pepper to your favourite recipe. 

2. Fill a large glass jar with berries. Mash them down and cover with vinegar. Let them sit around until you have time to deal with them and then measure off the juice. Boil with equal amounts of sugar, bottle it and you have shrub! Wonderful in a tall glass with ice, soda and lime or with hot water in the winter when you have a cold.

Creek Daze is coming, Aug. 13 and volunteers are needed!

Have a good week. Write to me mounseyyvonne@gmail.com.