Setting up our display at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

We are super excited to be setting up our display to promote Mangroves from the Water and its quest to highlight and protect the mangroves in the UAE and the world!

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington D.C. this summer,
June 22–27 and June 30–July 4. The featured programs this year are “Earth Optimism × Folklife:
Inspiring Conservation Communities” and “United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape | Living Memory.”
Over two weeks, visitors can enjoy music performances, craft workshops, cooking demonstrations,
hands-on activities, and more—all free, and a selection of events livestreaming worldwide.
We’re excited to take part in this annual celebration of culture of, by, and for the people, and we invite
you to join us in Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Save the dates and learn more at!


Here is a sneaky peak …

Radio Interview: Zahidah highlights the MFTW’s participation at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

In a recent The Sustainable Hour Apple podcast interview, curator and founding artist Zahidah Zeytoun Millie highlights the Mangroves from the Water (MFTW) display at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Please listen to this important and informative interview here: The Sustainable Hour Apple podcast

Zahidah talks of ‘earth optimism’ and ‘ecological intimacy’, and she believes in the importance of art on using a ‘soft language’ about the climate scientists’ messages. She is taking this concern to the international stage later this month at a prestigious festival in Washington DC, USA: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

This summer, the @SmithsonianFolk Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. We’re
excited to take part and invite you to join us, June 22–27 and June 30–July 4!
Learn more:


The Enviro Hero Biography Program features curator and founder Zahidah Zeytoun Millie

We are happy to share a biography written about the founder of the Mangroves from the Water (MFTW) by Thomas D, a Grade 4 school student of The Geelong College.  The biography was part of the Enviro Hero biography program supported by three teachers, one of whom is John Henderson, Thomas’ teacher.  The aim of the program was to teach students about their surrounding environment and the local people who help the environment.  

We think the Enviro Hero biographies program was successful and the students learned a lot about their environment, how to write a biography and how to get environmentally active in the future. 

We thank The Geelong College for running the Enviro Hero biographies program and for the book that holds copies of all the biographies.  We thank the teacher John, and his student Thomas for his beautiful written and portrait work.  

Finally, we’d love all schools to add such a program to their curricula.  Please download the files below to see the students’ reflections on the Enviro Hero biographies program

Zahidah Zeytoun Millie

Founder and Curator

Schedule of events

Here is the schedule of talks, events and performances during our exhibition:

Mangroves from the water

Gordon Gallery, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

26 July – 15 August

The exhibition will provide viewers with a range of media to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The artists also hope to see discussions occurring throughout the exhibition in a series of colloquia.

The artists are:

Alexis Gambis, Nicola Cerini, Enrico Santucci, Deb Taylor, Richard Collopy, Jacqui Dreessens, Stephanie Neville, Geraldine Chansard, Peter & Helen Martin, and Zahidah Zeytoun Millie.

 The exhibition event will open on International Mangroves Day, 26 July, and end on 15 August 2020 during National Science Week (15-23 August).   Workshops on weaving, printing and painting will run during the multimedia exhibition and guest speakers will present related talks on mangroves and the Barwon region.

Guest speakers:

Date/Time Guest Speaker Location Title
15 Aug,


Oskar Serrano Deakin University Coastal wetlands as weapons for climate change mitigation and time capsules of the human past
15 Aug, 1100-1200 Peter Martin Deakin University For the Beauty of the Earth


Workshops schedule:                                                                 

Date/Time Presenter Workshop Location Materials
31 Jul,


14 Aug,


7 Aug,


Zahidah Zeytoun Millie Kayaking/water colour sketching. Barwon River, Barwon Heads

Hovells Creek

Water colours, sketch book, kayak (self provided)
1 Aug, 1000-1600 Helen Martin Eco printing Point Lonsdale
2 Aug,



Deb Taylor 2 hour collage

and paint


Project Space Gallery
26 Jul,



8 Aug, 1400-6500


 22 Aug,


Jacqueline Dreessens Environmental Dance  Interpretation The Project Space Gallery

Hovells Creek


theatre TBC

15 Aug,


Nicola Cerini Interpreting the mangroves: printing on plywood The School of Lost Arts

 Live Performances

Date/Time Presenter Performance Location
Live music Project Space Gallery
26 July


Jacqueline Dreessens Environmental Dance  Interpretation The Project Space Gallery

The mangrove animal life

Text and images sourced from the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association

Mangroves are the supermarkets of the sea. The fertile mud is the original source of most of the mangrove’s food.  The fertility of the mud comes from the falling mangrove leaves.

Some animals live in the mangrove canopy and never step on the water or mud. This includes small birds, bats and most of the insects and spiders. For all the other mangroves animals they will be adapted for high tide feeding or low tide feeding. At high tide the fish move in and many of the small animals will be hiding from the fish. At low tide nearly all the fish move out and many animals come out of the mud to feed, but they need to watch out for birds. 

Crabs and shrimp


At low tide hundreds of mud borrows cover the exposed mud. If you wait quietly you will see small crabs scavenging for small pieces of dead plants and animals. There are dozens of species of crabs of all shapes and sizes. Fiddler crabs feed near their burrow. The male fiddler crab uses his large colourful claw to attract females. Mud shrimps also build burrows. Their burrows have a chimney. Prawns are strong swimmers. Young prawns will feed around mangroves. They feed at high tide. The millions of crabs and shrimps living in mangroves are an important source of food for fish and birds.



Mud whelks are a type of snail with a long thick spiral shells. They eat plants and dead material that have fallen onto the mud. They can be seen crawling along the mud and will climb up the trunks of mangroves. Whelks were eaten by Aboriginals and the empty shells can be used by hermit crabs. Many other types of snail live in mangroves.

Some shellfish have two shells hinged on one side. The shells protect the soft body inside. These are called bivalves. These bivalve shellfish pump water into the shells so their gills can get oxygen and the filters inside gather food from the water. They hide below the mud or attach themselves to solid objects. . Birds with long beaks probe the mud to find them. When they die their empty shells are washed up



Mudskippers are fish that use their fins to walk and skip on the mud at low tide. They breathe through their skin and the surface of their mouth when out of the water but they must remain damp. They store water in their large gill chambers on their neck. They will fight other mudskippers over their territory. When the tide comes in, they find protection from other fish by living in a burrow in the soft mud. Their burrow has a chimney built on top and they create an air pocket in the chamber below. The eyes on the top of their head allow them to swim with their eyes above the surface so they see predators from all directions. 

Insects and spiders


The easiest to find insects in mangroves are the butterflies visiting the flowers for their nectar. While drinking the nectar, they are covered in pollen and help to transport the pollen to other flowers. At certain times of the year, mosquitoes and biting midges can make a visit to some mangroves unpleasant. Some species of ants, termites, wasps, moths, bugs and flies also make the mangroves their home.

Where there are insects, there are hungry spiders waiting to feed on them. Orb weavers spin their large webs between branches. Huntsman spiders hide under bark when they are not hunting. Leaf curing spiders make their home by using their silk to roll up a leaf where they can hide inside.



Birds that hunt for insects and spiders or find food in the flowers  can be active all day long. Some of the birds like the mangrove whistler prefer living in mangroves, but many common birds like robins and honeyeaters will also feed in mangroves.

When the tide is out many wading and other wetland birds have a feast on crabs, marine worms, shellfish and any fish that have been left stranded. Herons and egrets are grabbing large items of food from shallow water or the muddy surface. Ibis and smaller wading birds can also probe the mud for the life hiding below. Many of the wading birds migrate to the northern hemisphere to breed.



Saltwater crocodiles are often found at both low and high tides in mangrove swamps. They will find an open dry area where they can warm themselves in the sun. They will effortlessly swim around the mangrove hunting at high tide. At low tide they can only crawl leaving behind their large trail. They will feed on fish and large crabs. They will quickly clean up any dead animals.

Australia has two species of crocodile. The large saltwater crocodile lives in both salt and freshwater and are dangerous to humans. The freshwater crocodile lives in rivers and eats fish and are not normally a danger. The only thing people can do to protect themselves from saltwater crocodiles is to never swim in their habitat.


Please visit the AUSMEPA website for more information:

Did you know…?

Did you know…. these interesting facts about mangroves?

Two thirds of the fish we eat spend part of their life in mangroves.

Mangroves are trees or shrubs that live in seawater. They occur in the area between high and low tide along the coast, estuaries and up rivers.

Only two counties, Indonesia and Brazil have more mangroves than Australia. 

Australian mangroves cover nearly 12,000 square kilometres. 

Mangroves cover 18% of the Australian coastline.

Mangroves help protect the land from the sea during cyclones and storms.

Mangrove habitats store more carbon than rainforests. Much of the carbon is in the mud.



Sourced from: Australian Marine Environment Protection Association, 21 March 2020, at:

Appreciating nature’s beauty – Helen Martin

During this universally uncertain period, it helps to take time for reflection and appreciation.

Being in isolation doesn’t mean one can’t still enjoy nature’s beauty. Helen Martin sent us these pictures from her visit to Warneet, Victoria, taken at the top of the bay where the Rutherford Creek flows into Western Port. (Photo taken by Helen Martin, with IPad).


Introducing Malcolm Gardiner

We are proud to collaborate with Malcolm Gardiner, the president of the Land and Water Resources Otway Catchment (LAWROC).

Malcolm Gardiner at Big Swamp
Malcolm Gardiner at Big Swamp, a former wetland that was turned into an acid soil wasteland.
Photo courtesy of ABC South West Vic: Matt Neal     Available at

LAWROC is a Landcare group which is actively involved in Barwon fighting for the protection on the Victorian Wetlands, specifically rivers and creeks in part of the Otways, south of Colac.

The desire to leave this world in a better shape than it has been found has been my major driving force.  A lack of truth, honesty and integrity from those authorities left with the task of looking after the world of the future has also been a driving force behind trying to look after at least one small area of the planet. – Malcolm Gardiner

Malcolm recently appeared on The Sustainable Hour and you can listen to the interview here:

He will participate in the Mangroves from the Water exhibition in Geelong, by displaying his books and hosting special talks. More information will be shared soon!