St Francis College Grade 3’s were treated to a very special outing on 14th February.  They walked through the Kabeljous Estuary with Aweigh Adventures Eco-Ed Specialist Harry Bateman, enjoying swimming and playing while learning all about this sensitive and pristine environment.

Harry teaches those who join one of his outings to the salt water estuarine environment that we live on a planet with limited resources and an ever increasing demand on natural environments and habitats. It is critical for us to understand the sensitivities and intricacies of estuaries, considered some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world and where all rivers meet the sea.

Estuarine environments have come under threat from development, as space around these natural gems is scenic and filled with wildlife but also perfect for development. What is not commonly understood is that the estuarine environment is very sensitive and hosts so many interconnected species and processes that rely on each other for food and habitat, that any development can permanently destroy the habitat for millions of creatures.

The visit to the Kabeljouws Estuary is an exercise in connecting with the estuary on many different levels, sensory as well as intellectually. To take care of something you have to love it and think it is special… To know more about it and everything that lives and functions within it, creates an understanding and a caring that will one day become the responsibility of young decision makers whom will have to decide the fate of these natural habitats.

From the high and low water mark closest to the waves of the sea, to where the fresh river comes into the system, the effect of the tides, the hydrological cycle, the movement of nutrients within the cycle and the effect of heat, the shallow nature of the estuary and so many interesting facts about this environment makes it one of the most exciting ecosystems in the world to explore. In fact, it can be considered the most productive ecosystems in the world and very easily out-produce environs like forests.

Harry’s groups enjoy the estuary, learn how it functions and explore the inter-connected relationships between organisms in the system so that we can relate to the environment in a caring loving way. Not many people know that it actually is our best organic waste disposal and recycling unit on the planet, while providing home to birds, fish, mammals, crustaceans and ultimately the enjoyment of man as a place to connect with mother nature in a special way.

The Estuary is one of the most productive Ecosystems in the world. From where the fresh water enters the system the organisms are working hard to control the salinity. Organic materials transported by the fresh rain, end up settling in the river mouth or estuary. Here it starts to decompose providing food for whatever is living in the sand which in turn provides food for whatever lives in the water and then provides food for birds and wildlife that rely on the fish. This interconnected system can have very large connections with man ultimately reaping the rewards of this finely tuned waste disposal unit. But do not litter because there are some forms of waste that take forever to break down, so be responsible and take care of this wonderful gift from nature because if we alter it, we lose all its diversity and its function within the system and are left with a stinking mess… but for now  Kabeljouws is healthy and we hope it stays that way through caring and sharing of how wonderful this system is.