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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mangrove Swamp Snorkelling

In North Wales bog snorkeling, though neither big nor serious, has become a cult event.

In Qatar, though, I have never heard of anyone mangrove swamp snorkeling and we received some strange looks as we descended from the jetty into the shallow water of Al Thakira.

Strange looks froom the locals at Al Thakira.The water did not come up much above our knees, and was murky with the rich silt generated from the mangroves. We saw only sand and mud and the occasional pale coloured fish until we reached the edge of the mangroves.

Then the thick roots of the grey mangrove started to protrude up from the water until we had to propel ourselves along by grasping the suprisingly rough roots and pulling ourselves along on them, scratching our exposed legs in the process.

As we neared the trees, the gentle late afternoon light was blocked out by roots arching eerily overhead. With visibility decreasing still further the effect was quite spooky, and I almost began to believe in the monstors I had told my four year old daughter existed in the swamps. At least in Qatar we didn't have to worry about crocodiles!

In fact we saw little wildlife. The mangrove crabs that scuttle around the mud at low tide, and which are so important for turning the rotten leaves of the mangroves into the nutritous mulch which makes mangrove swamps so valuable in the ecologicial system, had retreated into their holes.

Mudskippers also inherit Mangrove Swamps, but are increasingly rare. In fact, until not long ago these were thought to be extinct in Qatar, although they have now been seen on some of the remoter swamps. Sea slugs can also be found in the swamps, but all we saw were those pale fish looming out of the murky water, singly or in shoals, and the occasional larger fish flashing past us.

We headed back to shore and then to Doha. After arriving back at my flat, I was greeted with much concern by my daughter, who looked with much concern at the scratches on my legs and knees caused by the mangrove roots.

"Who did that?" she wanted to know.

"The monsters in the swamp."

To which she replied in a worried voice:

"And did the monsters say sorry?"

Bog Snorkelling

It could be a while before this event is introduced in Qatar:

Also see:

Things to Do in Qatar