GARF'S NEW INTERN TREVER IS HELPING US
RESEARCH MANGROVES IN MUD FILTERS
TREVER STUDIED MANGROVES IN FLORIDA THIS SUMMER
I started using mud filtration in 1969 after reading an article about mud filtration for brine shrimp culture. Using 4 inches of Idaho alkali garden soil in each 24 gallon garbage can, I was able to raise enough live brine shrimp in one-bedroom to support my growing marine and freshwater hobby. The instructions for heating and lighting the brine shrimp did not seem all that strange, but when I think back on having twenty-four garbage cans with hundred watt light bulbs half submerged in the water I shudder.
The instructions did say to be certain to submerge the light bulbs before turning them on or they would explode , and as long as you were very careful you could live through the experience. I gave up the ingenious light bulb heaters before we entered the 70's but I had always remembered the affective mud filtration.
Almost thirty years later I started hearing about mud filtration again and I was glad that I had kept the culture of bacteria alive in the GARF Grunge tanks. In 1996 Sally Jo and I embarked on a series of adventures looking for glow in the dark mud, mud from Geothermal hot vents, and interesting mud creatures from southern Baja.
There has been a lot of attention given to mud filters in the trade and I was certain that there would be an availability of dry mud from different vendors soon. Because of my research in sand filtration and live sand activator I knew that beneficial bacteria, worms, another micro fauna that live in mud would be an important research topic.
I do have to relate one story and a warning about collecting mud from Geothermal vents in Mexico. Early one morning while Sally Jo's sleeping I got up before sunset and headed to the lighthouse Point in the town we were visiting.
I had heard that there was a Geothermal hot springs and I wanted to see it for myself at as low as possible tide. The sun was just coming up over the tidal flat as I drove through the small village.
The fishermen were loading their boats with all the equipment they would need for catching fish about 30 miles from shore. I pulled over by the sea wall to watch the local dogs chase the pickup trucks that were driving through the sandy tide flats. A group of about six dogs were barking and chasing each truck as it drove through the shallow water. I had watched these dogs fishing in tide pools several days earlier, and I was amazed at how good at fishing they had become. The tide chart had been right when it predicted an extremely low tide just after sunrise.
I was certain that there would be interesting and unique micro fauna in the mud and I was right. I was also very lucky that I knew a lot about exploring Geothermal phenomenon.as I was wading out to the mud in about 1 ft. of salt water I felt that the water was particularly warm in one area. It seemed like an easy place to walk to until I saw that the bottom look like a seltzer glass.at exactly the same time I noticed the bubbles rising from the sand I felt the sand had hardened into a crust.
I stepped back on to my other foot and pulled back because I knew what happened when you fell through a crust into boiling hot geothermal water. Because I hadn't been injured I had fun throwing a small rocks through the crust so I could watch the bubbles rush to the surface. I was able to collect a bucket of mud from a small series of tide pools that never dried out at the lowest tide.
The small tide pools contained a very rich layer of find dark colored mud. I decided to set on a smooth Lava boulder that was half buried. From my perch on the Boulder I could see both the small tide pools and the beautiful sun rise. It was very interesting to watch the surface of the mud because as the tide dropped the surface was absolutely smoothe. Within a few minutes many small creatures started to leave microscopic footprints and tracks in the fresh mud. As I watched many tiny worms poked their heads above the surface of the mud. These worms started undulating to set up a slight current that would carry organisms into their reach .
Many minute shrimp came to the surface of this fine silt and I swear it looked like they were shaking off the mud before they ran off to do whatever they had to do. The last invertebrates that joined the hunt were many small snails that live just under the surface of the mud. As I watched, tiny siphons were extended above the surface, and a few seconds later the snails would break the surface of the mud and crawl rapidly away. After only about ten minutes the surface of this tiny mud flat was crossed and recrossed with thousands of tiny tracks.
I collected two buckets of mud from the small tide pools of warm water. After securing both buckets in the back of the Jeep, I drove back to the village for a wonderful Mexican breakfast and some hot black coffee at my favorite restaurant on the beach.
Mud hunting in this tropical paradise is hard duty -but someone has to do it :)