Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Mangrove Work!

 Mangroves! At first I came here because of, you can imagine, the sharks.
I read many things about the mangroves on the projects-abroad webpage, but I didn't realize that they are so important for the sharks and especially for our environment!
But then I saw so many mangroves when I rode the bus from Nadi to Pacific Harbour and the huge mangrove nursery next to our apartments and thought: "Okay... this must be a big thing in this project..."
And so it is.
Every (mangrove)-Monday a few volunteers go out and carry out some form of mangrove activity. Whether it’s building a nursery, collecting mangroves from the forest, planting mangroves in the wild or planting mangroves in the nursery.
Our red mangroves love the environment on the beach of a river near to the sea.
Red Mangroves? I will explain this to you.
There are three different types of mangroves. Red, black and white mangroves. And all are different and tolerate different levels of salt in the water.
The white mangroves tolerate the least amount salt of these three types. Mostly you can see it on beaches (land) next to the ocean.
A little bit further in the water, you can find the black mangroves. They like the salt and the fresh water.
And then there are our favourites: The red mangroves! We plant them on the tidal flats of beaches as they have the highest tolerance level to salt water.
Now you may ask why they are so important for the sharks. Well, that's easy.
 The pregnant sharks (sicklefin lemons, scalloped hammerhead, bulls...) are giving birth in the rivers and the juveniles are growing between the roots and get safety from them. This the reason we try to catch and tag some of sharks next to the mangroves in the river, because it's like a "shark-nursery" between the roots! After a few months the little sharks head off to the ocean and start the life out in the blue.
Summarized you can say, mangroves are the home and the kindergarten for the baby sharks.
I learned so much about mangroves on this project, especially in the workshops. You will love the work with mangroves even if it's the dirtiest and most exhausting day in the week but it's worth it.
After you've planted nearly 200 mangroves in the mud and can't see your feet anymore, you’ll feel amazing knowing you just built a home for the sharks and did something very important for the environment. Come back after 5 to 10 years and you can see a little mangrove forest and can tell yourself: "Yep!! That was me! Good job!" ;)

Great feeling! Great plants! 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Mighty Mangroves

Before I applied to volunteer with the Projects Abroad Fiji Shark Conservation I can honestly say that I had not even heard of mangroves. I’m from the prairies located in the middle portion of Canada; a place where you definitely will not find a mangrove. When I signed up for the project I read that I would be working in a mangrove nursery, as well as going out and planting them. I didn’t look too far into the whole “mangrove thing,” because I was so focused on the shark aspect of the project. It was not until I arrived and had my mangrove workshop that I realized how vital mangroves are, not only to our marine ecosystem, but to us on land as well.

Mangrove forests can be found on the coasts of tropical climates throughout the world. They can be a nursery to various marine life, they also can help protect against tsunamis and storms, help keep the water cleaner by filtering debris and dirt sentiments through their roots, and they improve air quality by using carbon dioxide for the photosynthesis process. Just to name a few of the many qualities that not only marine life benefit from, but us as well when mangroves are around. The red mangroves are able to produce new plants that hang off of their leaves which are called “propagules.” They are so self-efficient that they eventually drop into the water where they float along upright until they reach a spot where they can plant themselves.  At Projects Abroad we go out during low tide to find propagules that have not rooted themselves in the sand yet and we bring them back to our nursery to plant them in recycled bottles. After a few months in the nursery we pull them out and plant them along the coastline.

Volunteering here with Projects Abroad I have had the opportunity to go out into the mangrove swamps and collect propagules, plant the propagules into recycled bottles at our nursery, and then go out and plant the propagules along the shore line. During the two months of my time here at the project I took part in planting 5000 propagules. I now realize how significant these plants are to both of our ecosystems and I think it is important that people become aware of their significance and how special they are. While being a part of the project here, working with mangroves was one of my favourite activities. I think this was the case, because I realized how much we need them and how much the marine ecosystem needs them as well. They have adapted to withstand the harshest of conditions and this is why I have given them the name: Mighty Mangroves.