This morning the sun was shining, a gentle southerly blew, and I imagined the perfect swimming beach …so set off expecting some bliss amongst the waves. I was wrong! Firstly it was high tide, but more importantly the rather large and boisterous sea was throwing itself up the newly steep slope of the strand, slopping into sloshy pools created by a big dump of kelp. Kelp is usually here at this time of year, we even collect it to eat in seaweed salad (do you want the recipe?) and it is an important nutrient for the beach and lagoon eco systems.
This morning the maggots of the seaweed flies were being washed out of the decomposing weed, to be collected with enormous gusto by a huge flock of seagulls. A couple of ravens and three magpies were watching, hoping for some of the bounty.
I walked through the throng, they scattered reluctantly then regrouped. Further along the beach I saw a group of Red-capped Plovers (or Dotterel) running and bobbing between the rushing waves and the now sparsely-spread kelp. How exciting to count five! Our colony is increasing and two were obviously young, although well-grown.
In the waves a Great Cormorant surfaced, fishing perhaps for those species of fish coming in to have their share of the maggots washing out to sea. A few days ago we saw the Aboriginal fishermen on the beach, where they come with their utes and row boats. They watch the schools of fish from the headland, than come down to launch the boat and take a net around the school, then use the trucks to pull the net in. They had a huge haul of Australian salmon, which they sometimes sell for roe, and pet food.
We feel sad to see fish taken when they are swollen with roe, since they are coming in close to the shore here to spawn, where their eggs might wash into the lagoon and offer a safe haven for the young while they grow. It seems dangerous to keep taking the spawning adults, even though now the population does not seem endangered. Of course we cannot argue against this beach fishing since it involves our indigenous people, or their families.
Despite walking the length of the beach I did not find a safe place to swim, but I thought about this post, and how you might forgive me for not taking a camera, since I have a good photo of cormorants from last weekend!