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Letter: Sargasso pulling event highlighted beautiful Maple Bay

Encouraging all homeowners along the bay and everyone to pull out this rapidly spreading invasive

Sargasso pulling event highlighted beautiful Maple Bay

We had a fabulous day at Maple Bay on July 25 collecting the invasive sargasso from the bay. Huge thanks to Sue Fryer, the editor of the Maple Bay newsletter, for organizing this event — and with such professional aplomb — and to Andrea and the Citizen for promoting our event and making it a great success!

It was wonderful to see how many volunteers showed up, and whose heart wouldn’t be warmed by the sight of several strangers coming together as TEAM GOOD PEOPLE — with one of them going home for a wheelbarrow!

Regina Montag, a Waldorf biology teacher, gave us the real scoop — it is not actually a seaweed but a brown algae, and thousands of rhizomes spread from each one — and they adhere and grow only on rocks (surprise!).

The next day when I went back to snorkel the low tide I met a lady taking buckets of it for her garden in Mill Bay; a friend had called first thing! All seaweed is good for the garden but it might be wise to let the rain wash sargasso out a bit before applying to garden, but so worth it; it’s very rich in minerals and all else a garden needs (and free!).

So, encouraging all homeowners along the bay and everyone to pull out this rapidly spreading invasive and I will give an Art Card of Maple Bay village to everyone who sends a photo of a mound extracted! It’s easier this year because everything is a bit stunted due to excessive heat!

I am madly trying to finish my painting of Maple Bay village — to get prints to the winners — lots of detail, but lots of fun; and huge thanks to everyone for making this day the great success it was.

Amongst all the other great things that day we met some really interesting people, with Bruce Cates suggesting another event with service organizations, food and music involved. Sounds like a super idea, we’ll keep you posted!

Just to give a little idea of what’s to be seen under the north side of the bay: most unusual pink encrusting coral on many rocks with splashes of many other colours and phosphorescence as well, with the endless patterns of shells and sea life on every surface. The seaweed varieties — colours shapes and textures are endless. For someone whose favourite subject at school was organic design, it’s a dream come true!

So, a list: California sea cucumbers, various starfish — purple, brittle, bat and leather — so many colours, sizes and shapes of anemones, many species of crabs, ancient chitons with their fascinating eight plate patterns, many tunicates including wrinkled sea squirts, sponges in shades of purple yellow rust and red, and red tapeworms, limpets and bivalves creating incredible patterns under every dock.

I watched a fascinating collection of kelp crabs chowing down a jellyfish looking just like a candyfloss feast, with a riveting pecking order amongst them! I returned later to find the jelly eaten, everything gone, moved from the dock poles, even the limpets that the crabs were sitting on and new anemones had moved in! Other than the fact I freeze if stationary, I simply have to get an underwater camera. By the way, there is a beautiful picture book largely of Maple Bay, Up Close and Personal by Wendy Carey, a scuba diver. Jellyfish have all but disappeared due to the entrapment powers of the tall multibranched sargasso, but I saw two more scenarios like this, both jellies trapped by sargasso and being consumed so fast. The crabs seem to thrive in this elevated heat (the bay water has recorded 25 C this summer). Add in the crustaceons, the dorids, every kind of barnacle and of course the many fish species, and it all makes for an amazing scenario just waiting to be discovered under the sea!

The winners of the biggest piles collected were:

1st: Large print goes to: Brent and Jana Pedersen

Smaller prints go to: Julian Hanrahan, Bruce Cates and Lorna Jaynes, Sue Candy and Regina Montag

Jennifer Lawson

Maple Bay

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