October saw the final Mackay Marine Classroom Trip for the year. This time it was Mackay High Schools turn for three days on Brampton Island. The trip was aimed at giving the students a sense of everything to do with the marine environment not just the water; the reefs, the island, the ecosystems, and even the developments on the islands were all focused upon.
As the students were all in Year 12 and close to finishing high school and heading off on their new adventures, another aim of this trip was to give the students a lasting memory of the islands from their home area and how fragile and special these ecosystems are.
Activities on the island were varied. A small amount of weeding was done as the winter has been so dry the beach scrub is looking surprisingly clear in the undergrowth because the lack of moisture is preventing new weeds from sprouting. The students spent an hour clearing out older weeds from around the watercourse to allow room for the natives coming up. That night the scrub fowls were very active in the area turning over any small new weeds that we had missed.
The students conducted a reef survey where they were setting up a longitudinal survey looking at the size and distribution of sea cucumbers within the lagoon and reef flat in western Bay. Every class that come out from Mackay State High School each year will conduct this survey. As Sea Cucumbers are an indicator species on the reef, this survey will give us a good idea on how and if the health of this reef is changing.
The weather this week was amazing and on the day we arrived on the island the students went straight into the water at low tide for a snorkel in the warm clear waters of the fringing reef in Western bay. Many schools of bait fish were seen, stingrays and very colourful coral. The students didn’t stop talking about what they saw all night, they were very keen to see some more of what the island had to offer then next day.
In this tight program we managed to find the time to walk off breakfast and head over to look at the old resort. From the beach the students were able to get an idea of what the resort would have been like in its heyday. It was hard for them to imagine sharing this place with up to 300 other people, it seemed so deserted now.
The weather and the company was fantastic for this last trip to Brampton for the year. These trips cant happen without the support of Reef Catchments and the local council. The teachers from each of the schools are the biggest assets to the program as without them there would be no students. A huge thanks goes to all the schools we have had out this year.