Mangroves and Marine Life with Friends of the Environment

Jasmine Lees
Friday 3 March 2023

Coming off the back of a great day recording observations of sperm whales at the south end of the island, today we travelled back up north to explore and learn about different coastal ecosystems. We met up with Leanna and Lyndeisha from Friends of the Environment, who gave us a tour of nearby mangrove forests, providing helpful instruction on how to identify the three species of mangrove native to Abaco and a discussion on the threats facing them and what we can do to help. As a group, we snorkelled into the mangroves, picking up a few stings from the beautiful (but not so friendly) Cassiopeia jellyfish scattered around the sea bottom.

In the afternoon we listened to a talk from Leanna and Lyndeisha on the biology and conservation status of Bahamian coral reefs, as well as the wonderful variety of animals that call them home. We put our masks and fins back on to snorkel at Mermaid Reef in Marsh Harbour, a reef that both suffered some of the most severe damage from Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and showed incredible resilience to restore itself, with some help from local conservationists. In the wake of increasing effects from climate change, mermaid reef’s success gives us a valuable opportunity to learn the natural mechanisms key to building resilience in similar habitats around the Bahamas. We had a great time in the reef itself, swimming alongside green sea turtles, barracuda, parrotfish, and many other beautiful marine species. We ended our day with a refreshing freshwater dip in one of Abaco’s famous blue holes (pictured in photo below!) before heading back down south for a lovely homecooked dinner and talk on sperm whales by Charlotte Dunn.

Written by Tristan Kleyn (University of St. Andrews)

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