Tidal Forests of Kenya

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August 8: Crabs are important, and not just to eat




Today's blogger: Colleen Kredell

Wedding celebrations went on into the night but I woke up feeling rested and lucky to have been a part of yesterday’s amazing activities. 

After breakfast, we set out for the beach here in Gazi to plant the final seedlings along the shoreline. Today’s planting went much differently than the last. Where in Kinondo we were able to dig holes and fill them with seedlings at our own pace, here in Gazi we had to rush to plant the tree before water filled the hole. Working together we improved our methods quickly and after a morning’s work we had filled a full plot with mangrove seedlings. We were even lucky enough to find a crab in a tree stump and with the help of John, caught the crab for today’s lunch. Along with two slipper lobsters bought off the beach from a local fisherman, we had ourselves a deliciously fresh Gazi Bay lunch. 

After finishing up our fresh seafood, the team worked to finish inputting our remaining data sheets. Later in the afternoon another research team visited to share a presentation on a project they are working on in Gazi. Dr. Stefano Kinichi of Florence University is here with his team to study the effects of climate change on crabs that are indigenous to mangrove ecosystems. It was very interesting to learn more about the role of crabs in mangrove areas - especially after spending so much time counting them in the plots! As crabs bring oxygen to the roots of the mangrove system, they are an integral part to maintaining the ecosystem. Dr. Kinichi’s project team is working in cooperation with universities in Germany, South Africa, Mexico, Australia and the US to study a variety of parameters that will affect crabs and their ecosystems as a result of climate change. The project will provide data that can then be used to estimate a specific species of crabs’ ability to adapt to the pressures of climate change. 

I’ve enjoyed all of the science-focused presentations of the trip and was happy to get some further insight into some of the animals we have been working with so far. I never would have thought that those little fiddler crabs could be so important!