Mini SASS Course 01 April 2009.

Alice (Ally) Ashwell co-ordinated and organised with Jeanne Gouws (Cape Nature - Stellenbosch) to present a course to interested people. Group representatives from Table Mountain National Park, WESSA, Two Oceans Aquarium, SANBI (Working for Wetlands), Zandvlei Nature Reserve, Noordhoek NGO's, and Zandvlei Trust.

We met at Lismore Road, Tokai and walked down to the Prinskasteel River at the castelated weir, near the M3 motorway to do a sample test. The weather was hot and sunny, with no wind.
Under a shady tree Jeanne introduced us to the course, all having received updated mini SASS notes and information sheets prior to the day. 

Jeanne Gouws introducing the course to the group of about 25 enthusiastic participants.

Note making and questions.                                  Explaining the water flow direction and net position.

There is technical detail to remember and adhere too, so as to achieve acurate and consistant results. This is not too difficult to understand or remember, obviously practise will improve the results depending on the location and site.

"Twisting in the mud" to release mud dwelling creatures. Collecting the samples.

We were all surprised to see the amount of life that came from the water when observed in the trays. Jeanne explained that the higher the species count the better the quality of water is. Quanity of species is not what is really looked for, a diverse variety of species is wanted. Hence the importance to conserve and work towards increasing the biodiversity of all species, big and small. 

We saw a large mud crab.                            The net sample being emptied into the tray.

These are the small creatures very few people see, let alone think about or consider in busy our daily lives. These creatures are often at the begining of the foodchain and important indicators of the health of the system or habitat.

There were all sorts of small swimming creatures.     Plenty small fish were evident.

This group of keen observres on their knees.        It was busy at the weir.      

Other wildlife was observed, a Gymnogene being harrrassed by a pair of gulls and a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead. A pair of nearby resident horses with a rider (Cattle Egret) were roaming in the grass.

Alice thanking Jeanne for all we learnt today.                Patrick Dowling brought a solar heating
                                                                                 container so we could have warm water to wash
                                                                                 our hands afterwards. One never knows!!

Basins, soap and towels were provided.         Getting down to scoring the exercise.

Romeo and Marisa checking their charts.                Question and answer session, after.


A group of Leaders for the School GIS Trail run by Ally remained afterwards, to finalise the school trail preparations for the 28th April. This is based on the Source to Sea programme, following the Princesskasteel River, Keysers River to Zandvlei then to the estuary mouth.
A number of volunteer Friends Groups, Nature Conservation staff,  will also assist the school groups to assemble information for a GIS project, part of their ciriculumn.

For more information contact;

Ally Ashwell     021 788 2431
                       082 720 7444


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