Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sea Meadows

 Seagrass meadows, I think, are like the frogs of the ocean. When they are flourishing, the place is going okay.

Last night we netted at the eastern end of the harbour and checked out the meadows. They offered up little yellow clusters of flowers.
At the western end of Princess Royal Harbour, an invasive algae is on the march, victualled by the town's nutrient run-off. The algae is slimy and khaki and it spreads through the shallows, smothering the sea meadows. Probably, it was introduced by ship's ballast from some exotic port, then successfully distributed in the advent of trailered dinghies. (Like us.) No flowers there.

Oyster Harbour, on the other hand, doesn't have the same problems with algae, doing away with my trailered boats hypothesis. Maybe its health is due to the estuary being fed by two fresh water rivers. The seagrass there is dusty with silt from the Kalgan and the King, brown rather than bright green, but it is thriving.

Spider crabs cultivate seagrass on their crowns. So cute, an emerald tuft growing from their heads, a ruse to disappear into the meadows.

These pictures were taken at Two People's Bay. The water is so clear, a joy after a winter in the murky inlets (though a bit frightening after weeks of an easterly onshore that rolls the swell in mountainous, sloppy deckie traps). The seagrass at Two Peoples Bay is a different species, smoky grey green rather than bright green, and I didn't see any flowers when I was there last week. See how the meadows sway and weave into rows as the currents divide them, curling them over each other like a woman's hair ... or meadows of soft, soft grass in the wind.


  1. Seagrass meadows and frogs...what?? So where are the cows? See, I always had this idea and image of you bent double over your briny net, picking fish scales from your toes, but little did I know you and old Salt were having a picnic in the park, laying out about on sea grass and meadows...

  2. No, no! You don't get it (or maybe you do ...) I'm trying to say that frogs are indicators of a healthy environment and seagrass is the same. Of course you get it :)

  3. :) Yeah, I get it! But frogs and sea water, that's what threw me... into the sea...But all this talk of meadows and grasses made me think of cows...I don't know why? Actually, another vision that followed the first was of you and Old Salt out there on your meadows stopping between pulling in your nets, stopping to eat feta and pitted kalamata olives ... and sharing a french bread stick, washed down with a glass or two of merlot and followed by a cup of free trade coffee... Yep, out on the meadows you fisher-folk are doing it tough! :)

  4. I remember when the water was like that here , thanks !

  5. Thank you, Sarah. After my overwrought day, I really needed to come home to the Wine Dark Sea. So nice to go there with you. Lovely photographs and you write us in so well.
    Of course the sea-grass is the frogs of the sea (number confusion there, but there's no way around it). Both populations are very sensitive to disturbance.
    When I first moved to Albany in '96 there was an algae harvester working in the Princess Royal Harbour. Do you remember that?

  6. Yes I do! We used to use it as mulch on our gardens. Thanks for your lovely comment. And Woy Woy Steve too.

  7. Yes, I did err in my response and I can see you weren't the slight least bit interested or amused in my suggestion that you and Old Salt eat feta and drink fair trade coffee between pulling up your nets out on the sea grass meadows... But I did read with interest that your next blog does have references to cows "The Sympathetic Cow Murderer
    By Richard Davy" so it just goes to show that my sixth sense knew you had a story about a cow hiding out on that sea grass meadow there somewhere... But on the topic of sea grass, is Middleton Beach still covered by all those sea grass fur balls? Back in 1969 (100 years ago) Middleton Beach was covered in them. I used to imagine as a 5 year old that they were anything but the makings of sea grass thinking, instead, they were seal or shark poo! I haven't seen such quantities of sea grass in other places, so as you say, it would appear to give - similar to the presence of frogs - an indication of a healthy environment!

  8. Cows on the brain. I'll post more about Richard's book later. Yes those furry things are still there. They wash in certain times of the year. They've always intrigued me too, a bit like turds full of sand really. But much nicer. I think they are created by fibres rolling around on the sea floor.