Wet Season

Skyrail Nature Diary: January 2012

The wet season was a time when life was easier for the Tjapukai aboriginal people who lived in the rainforest as the trees when flowering and fruiting, would attract many animals which the hunters and gatherers knew well.

January is also a time of sudden downpours and the occasional cyclone. We may sometimes complain about the rain but lets not forget the important role it plays in our Wet Tropical Rainforest.

Often during summer the daily weather will consist of an early morning with blue sky and mist covered mountains. As the day progresses and the rainforest heats up, clouds build due to the moisture released from the plants through the process of ‘transpiration’.This is when plants release water from their leaves during photosynthesis in a similar way to us when we sweat in the heat. The moisture rises up and condenses as clouds, preventing everything below from reaching extreme heat. When cool enough, the clouds release torrents of rain which water and cool the earth. By evening, the clouds have usually dispersed.

Much of the life giving water filters its way down through the rainforest carrying with it nutrients and minerals which then enter the coastal mangrove forests. Some of this is carried on by tides and ocean currents out on to the Great Barrier Reef. Much of the life on the Great Barrier Reef may to a certain extent be dependent on these minerals, not just the corals but many other life forms such as crustaceans and fish at the beginning of their lives or microscopic plankton in the mangrove forests which when big enough, will make their way out on to ocean.

The connection between the rainforest, the mangroves and the Great Barrier Reef is vital, especially to the many life forms existing within each ecosystem.

Phil Rooney, Ranger, Skyrail