We got lucky this weekend with the perfect window of weather for our Whangateau Snorkel Day on Sunday, held in memory of the late Dr Roger Grace. Roger was a founding trustee of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust and spent many hours in the estuary doing his PhD research in 1966, pioneering science by SCUBA diving. Last year the Roger Grace Memorial Fund was created to continue to make waves for marine conservation. Please donate today www.emr.org.nz/roger-grace-fund
78 participants joined us on Sunday to explore the mangrove forests and sandstone reefs of Whangateau harbour. Whilst making our way out to the reef, snorkellers spotted hairy crabs, curious mantis shrimps, filtering anemones and weaving snail highways. After crossing the sandy flats of the harbour the reef started to reveal itself, with draping Neptune's necklace and schools of parore and spotties. On our way back to shore we stopped by the mangroves so we could get up close and personal with these important ocean loving trees. We saw barnacles waving their fronds in mesmerising patterns and marvelled at the cave like structures formed by the trunks and roots of the mangroves.
The event provides an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of mangrove forests as fish nurseries and to prevent coastal erosion, while immersing them in the habitat. We also covered the cockle closure and what that marine protection means in relation to water clarity.
Huge thank you to The Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation for funding this event, to the Whangateau Holiday Park for providing accomodation for the volunteers and crew and of course to our amazing volunteers for guiding many new participants through the wonders of the Whangateau Harbour.