Students from the Cervantes Primary School now better understand how important seaweed is to the health of our beaches and coastal ecosystem after joining the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council’s (NACC) Marine Biologist, Dr Mic Payne for a ‘Wonders of Beach Wrack Walk’.
Forty-seven students and four teachers spent a morning getting to know the local beach wrack and why it is so important for our coastal systems. Beach wrack is the term used to describe the accumulation of seaweed, seagrass and other specimens from the sea which collects near the shore and on our beaches.
Rhiannon Blake, Primary Teacher at the Cervantes School said “It was a great opportunity for students to have some hands on experience to broaden their understanding of the local coastal environment.”
Students gathered an array of specimens found on the beach and learned about the differences between seaweed, seagrass, and other organisms that are washed up on the beach and the importance of these in natural cycles of the coastal environment.
Philippa Schmucker, NACC’s Natural Resource Management Officer at Jurien Bay assisted Dr Mic Payne with the workshop. Philippa said “Through hands-on interactive activities, students learned that beach wrack is fundamental part of coastal ecology. It was great to see what students knew and thought of wrack at the beginning of the session and to get feedback from them at the end, seeing a distinct change in perspective toward beach wrack from their learnings at the workshop.”
Wrack provides three main functions in our coastal environment and is vital to the health of ecosystems such as that of our Turquoise Coast.
- Nutrients: As beach wrack breaks down, nutrients are released back in to the ocean and support growth of seagrass and seaweed that in turn become food for marine
- Food Production: Organic matter from the wrack is broken down and disintegrates, becoming food for amphipods (tiny invertebrates). These are eaten by birds, insects and spiders on the beach and young fish in the water, providing food for larger fish and marine
- Protection and Structure: When waves hit banks of wrack on the beach it provides protection to beach sand, slowing the erosion process. Seagrass stems can be very strong and wireweed in particular can ‘matt’ up and act as a net, catching sand and holding it in place on the beach, reinforcing the sand and slowing the erosion
If you are keen to learn about the wonders of weed, join Dr Mic Payne for an interactive Beach Wrack Walk at the Indian Ocean Festival at Jurien Bay on Saturday November 8th.