Mangrove Madness: A Different Kind of Easter Hunt

Mangrove Madness: A Different Kind of Easter Hunt

My Suva Park was the place to be on Saturday morning, 17 March. Rather than searching for Easter Eggs, more than fifty children plus their family members learned about six different animals that can be found in the mangroves–fiddler crabs, molluscs (oysters & winkles), sponges, herons, barnacles, and mudskippers—and then walked into the mangroves, searched for, and actually observed the animals in their natural habitat!



Mangrove Madness was part of NatureFiji-MareqetiViti’s “Learn from the Scientists” series which aims to raise public awareness of Fiji’s biodiversity. Freshwater macroinvertebrate scientist Bindiya Rashni led participants on the mangrove walks, pointing out the best places to spot the various species, and sharing her love for the mangroves and the creatures who depend on them.  You could feel the children’s excitement not just as they watched mudskippers skipping, but even when they spotted colonies of sponge growing at the base of the mangroves.

Before they set out on the walks, the children learned basic information about mangrove inhabitants, for example:

  • Sponges are animals, not plants, but have no circulatory, nervous or digestive systems
  • Only male fiddler crabs have their characteristic enlarged claw, not the females.
  • While mudskippers are fish, too much time underwater can actually kill them.

They did this through fun activities, including performing a crab claw dance, creating a decorated barnacle to attach to a mangrove root sculpture, making a heron mask and a mudskipper finger puppet, reciting a tongue-twister about oysters, and racing with household sponges full of water.

Throughout the event, the emphasis was on the importance of mangroves as the interface between land and sea. They serve as filters of pollutants and sediments, ensuring that clean water reaches coral reefs, an extremely important role in maintaining the ecological stability of our environment.

Through NatureFiji-MareqetiViti’s “Learn from the Scientists” programs, children and adults explore biodiversity within critical habitats of Fijian forest and wetland ecosystems. These critical ecosystems need to be conserved and managed sustainably to enable natural ecological stability for provision of ecosystem services.

Special thanks to International School of Suva whose volunteers helped the team make this event possible, and to Project Survival Pacific who joined us on the day.