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Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

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Fruits of the Thames

As part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary YoHa and Art Catalyst are holding three FREE workshops in Leigh-on-Sea to digest and map the Fruits of the Thames.

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Saturday 13 September 8:30 to 13:00 (weather permitting)

Book places

Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

Sunday14 September 10:00 to 16:00 (weather permitting)

Book places 

Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa

Saturday 20 September 10:00 to 16:00 (weather permitting)

Book places

Details of each workshop, clothing and equipment required can be found below.

These workshops lead on from the workshop Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames held in July 2014 at Leigh-on-Sea’s Maritime Festival.

Catastrophe can afford a certain optimism. Many would say the worst has already happened to Two Tree Island, Leigh-on-Sea, situated on the north bank of the Thames Estuary. From 1936 to the mid-1980s the site was used as landfill and a sewage works, leaking PCBs, DDT and other nasties into the salt marsh. Southend-on-Sea and Castle Point local authorities have little data about what lurks beneath the uneven rubble, plastic bags of dog poop, half-empty 1950s Brasso tins, chip wrappers and the ruins of long-forgotten Southend-on-Sea property booms. In 2004, the Island’s chemical cocktail leached into the genomes of surrounding shellfish percolating to public attention in Parliamentary questions.

In recent years Essex Wildlife Trust and a host of local volunteers have transformed the Island into a haven, allowing wild Essex to perch on top of its abandoned urban filth.  Today beautiful — and sometimes exotic — wild apples are tempting to eat, blackberries flourish and cry out to be jammed; fennel, shellfish and sea aster spring from once-contaminated soil. Two Tree Island is not too different from anywhere else in the UK, where the worst of poisonous substances and their potential hide beneath the surface.

Workshop Details

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Date and Time: (weather permitting) Saturday 13 September 8.30am to 1pm

Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea railway station, Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2ET

Dropping point: Old Leigh

Using geo-locating devices such as smartphones, geo-tagging photo-cameras and GPS devices we will assist amateur biologist and gardener Paul Huxster studying Eelgrass and Cordgrass spatial fluctuations across Leigh’s tidelands. Local micro and macro biodiversity depends of these two plant species.

In the 19th century various Cordgrass species were introduced to the tidelands of Two Tree Island, as a low-end land reclamation experiment to expand Old Leigh’s public land for grazing sheep. It proved a resounding failure for the positivist minds of land speculation. Today Cordgrass is an attractive nutrient for invasive grazers as they migrate toward the Estuary’s warming waters. And both Cordgrass and grazing animalsare steadily establishing in the area. However, siltation processes are also altering the local environment, and as sea temperature rises, Eelgrass species are being pushed from Essex shorelines northwards, affecting in turn many other the breeding, feeding and migration of other species.

Images will be compiled using the hashtag: #mudwalkingleight. An interactive map and extensive documentation will be produced to help Paul Huxster to track this complex yet contentious process in which science oughtn’t have the only say. We want to reflect upon what constitutes native or non-native ecology and what defines novel versus historical ecosystems in an age in which human activity constitutes the main force driving ecosystems’ change. And, above all, contemplate the cultural systems we use to value them.

The tide on the day will be early, so we need to start walking by 9am. Participants should bear on mind that the event is demanding physically; appropriate gear (listed below) is essential, especially tight wellies and a strong stick for walking. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to walk the mud, then after little rest and light refreshment, participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online maps produced on the day or produce their own map.

Protective clothing and equipment

To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting willies and strong walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary). Smartphones or GPS devices are welcome but please bring a plastic bag to keep the dry.


Mud walking June 2014

Mud Walking from Fran Gallardo on Vimeo.

Interview at the workshop “Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames” on Leigh maritime festival July 2014

YoHa’s site about this project – click here.

Help spread the word!

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Sat 13 September 2014


Ends: Sat 13 September 1:00PM

Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea railway station, Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2ET


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