Thursday 18th February 2016

Well today was BOAT DAY! I normally appreciate boats from a far as I get quite sea sick, especially on open waters, but decided to take part in this wonderful experience as this is the first time Bush Blitz has surveyed aquatic material.. We left base camp around 8:45am and drove to the ferry terminal to meet the 'Penghana' from the Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre, and its crew Andrew, Claire and Steve the captain.  Andrew and Claire are teachers at the Marine Discovery centre who educate students from schools around Tasmania about the wonders of the marine world.  We also had two extra crew members on board to greet us, students from Woodbridge, Taylor and Imogen who had been invited to join our expedition for the day.

We waited near the ferry dock for the boat to arrive. Mary-anne and Kirrily were investigating the very cool local marine environment around the dock's metal structure.  Tasmania has a thriving wild oyster business which has not been affected by the POMS (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome) virus which stops the oyster from growing, devestating many osyter farms around the World. Growing in and around the metal infrastructure intertidal zone, was a number of molloscus, invetrebrae and fish.  

The Marine life was incredible and the water was crystal clear; what a perfect micro ecosystem so close to constant traffic. Shortly after our transportation arrived, we packed the boat in preparation for our day.  The weather hasn't really been kind over the last few days and today was forcasted as a windy with possible rain.  We left Kettering point and travelled at 6 knots per hour down the coast of Bruny Island to our first point Huon Island.   this took around 1hr and 20 minutes.  Our mission today was to dredge key spots just outside the conserveration areas.  The dredge itself was quite small, approximately 900mm in length.  Once the site was selected, the dredge was lowered onto the marine floor and dragged for a period of 3 mintues.  After three minutes the dredge was raised up and we would survey the sample taken by emptying it on a sorting table. Our resident algae specialist, Fiona Scott from the Tasmanian Herbarium and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery was keenly looking to identify any algae and see grasses found, while Kirrily Moore (TMAG) was looking at small corals and invertebrate species in the area.  

 

                               

We moved onto a number of other sites, but due to the level of unsettled waters I was restricted to the front of the boat where fresh air was readily available.  I took sea sick tablets and chewed on dry ginger but honestly I am a terrestrial being. I even had to have a quick nap at the front of the boat which helped with the neusea. Once I woke up I felt a little better and was able to assist with the final dredging process from Satellite Island.  The coolest thing I saw today was the Australian Fur Seals sleeping in the Ocean.  Seals lie on their back with their fins out of the water which provides thermoregulation.  Thermoregulation is where the seal keeps warm by putting their hands outside the ocean, warming their hands, therefore warming their body.  We were able to get really close (about 5 meters away) before they would wake and swim under the water.

 The species collected from this surveys, both algae and invertebrae species, were absolutely wonderful. We collected an awesome invertebrae called the purple hare, which is a slug that shoots out purple ink when it is threatened.  

We headed back to the Woodbridge Marine Centre around 4:00 to drop off the students and quickly visist the marine centre.  There at the centre, we had a ball looking at a number of sharks, eels and large hermit crabs. After spending half an hour there we bid goodbye to the students and headed back to port.  Both Kirrily and Fiona have an extremely long night preparing samples to classify and pressing their samples. 

Crazy fact for the day, whilst writing this blog, my body still believes I am still on the water. I am rocking back and forth on my chair so sleeping tonight will be definetly interesting.  Tomorrow I am off with James and Natalie conducting seed collecting to add to the seedbank.  I am so excited and looking forward to that.  Until tomorrow

 

Mrs Tinney