We joined DELWP Gippsland to explore a local creek!
Who knows what an ‘estuary’ is? Thanks to the fabulous team at DELWP Gippsland (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), we do now. We had a great opportunity to learn about the local creek in Seaspray, Merrimans Creek. It runs all the way from the Strezleki ranges down to the 90 Mile Beach in Seaspray.
It was a perfect morning uncovering marine the marine environment in Merrimans Creek, Seaspray. This popular location is perfect for the kids to swim in, and occasionally opens up to the ocean. We knew there was a variety of habitats in the water but didn’t know exactly which slimy and scaly creatures were sharing their homes and environment with us. DELWP put on a family activity to explore it together. What a great educational activity whilst travelling Australia.
So…what is an estuary? Very simply, it is the point at which the salt water mixes with fresh water when a creek meets the ocean. At the 90 Mile Beach in Seaspray Merrimans Creek runs up to the dunes. It is often closed off, giving a great location for children and families to swim. But with each King tide the mouth of the creek opens up, allowing fresh salt water in and clearing out algae from the creek. Isn’t nature wonderful?
We saw a cool diagram, showing how the salt water drops to the bottom, the fresh water rises to the top, and in the middle is the point at which they mix. Whilst this doesn’t really matter to the kids looking to cool down in the water, it is a very special place for the marine life. You see, the estuary provides the perfect conditions for many fish to spawn.
Now, if you ask the kids…what does ‘spawn’ mean? They will probably launch in a description of Minecraft. A quick google search defines spawn as ‘a fictional character’, but it wasn’t always this way.
Spawn, in marine terms, refers to the process of fish reproduction. And an estuary provides the perfect conditions. In Merrimans Creek, the fish travel from the fresh water upstream down to the estuary to spawn the next generation. In the video below you can see what we got up to with the DELWP guys and Jed, Alex and Harry explain to you all about estuaries and why they are important.
When the new offspring have matured enough, they make their way back to the fresh water environment to live. Pretty cool hey! We were shown samples of fish from the fresh water area and the estuary and noted the difference in sizes.
Another common find in Merriman’s Creek are eels. The eels, however, begin their life somewhere else completely…all the way up in Queensland. Researchers are not really sure how the eels make their way to and from Queensland and Victoria, and are currently tracking the journey. Those eels sure have some stamina!
Many thanks to the staff at DELWP Gippsland for sharing their time and knowledge with us. Next time we swim in Merrimans Creek, Seaspray, we will be much more aware of the ‘locals’ who are sharing their home with us and the special estuary environment we are fortunate to access.