Feb 26, 2008

Seagrass Angels @ Labrador - "backposting"

Hi all!

It's been quite some time since we met up with the Seagrass Angels from Labrador and the angel commander - Mr Lim (aka Chengpuay)
So Siti and I went down last Tuesday (19th Feb) to get our hands and feet wet with them. In fact, heh, the gals have already posted the day's events plus more details on their blog - check it out here

Just a recap, the hardworking trio + teacher monitors our seagrasses composed mainly of Thalassia hemprichii mixed with Enhalus acoroides and Halophila ovalis at Labrador. On top of the usual parameters according to the SeagrassWatch method, they also go around 'poking' seagrasses to monitor the growth rates.

The score for seaweeds vs seagrasses during the monitoring first appeared 1:0! The entire shore was covered with macroalgae, mainly Bryopsis sp. and although my guess is the algae are seasonal, I was dismayed for a second at the thoughts of not seeing the beautiful lush seagrasses. See what I mean...

Nonetheless, the Seagrass Angels persevered and carried on with the survey, trying not to miss out all the various species amidst the seaweed-laden substrate. In fact, the gals looked like they were doing seaweed farming (See picture below), with quadrats filled with it. I must say the young gals are pretty sharp and spotted some Halophila ovalis hiding below the Thalassia hemprichii, which were in turn 'hidden' by the top cover of macroalgae. Well done for being meticulous - kudos to the teacher too ;p (Note for the 'older' seagrassers like me, heh, we have to be as careful as the youthful ones!).

Fortunately for the sun-scotched seagrassers, the tide receded further, and the luscious green seagrasses once again unveiled...

On completing the quadrats, we proceeded quickly - Well, we got somewhat distracted along the way by flowering Thalassia hemprichii, a naked hermit crab - YES - 'NAKED' and a shrimp, before Mr Lim kept screaming at, nope, it's REMINDING us to focus on the tasks ahead =).

Note: I'm so sorry, all my pictures of the animals mentioned above came out rather "abstract" - so only posted this vaguely clear submerged flower. Sob!

Finally, we choose a lush looking patch of seagrasses (Thalassia hemprichii), Chengpuay got the gals to mark a square, within which we started to 'poke' or pierce a hole in the blades of the seagrass. On Saturday, the seagrass angels would be back to check on the growth. And with that, the day's job was done!

A catfish caught by the receding tide greeted us just before we made our way back too. Thanks for the hard work, Chengpuay and seagrass angels!

Feb 20, 2008

Pulau Semakau (20 Feb 08)

Our first weekday monitoring for the year and still we had a great turnout from the Team! Wow!
We arrived very early for a change as everyone was on time, and all went smoothly. So we had a bit of time to look around while waiting for the tide to go down.

Thanks to Andy, I corrected my very 'senget' (crooked) line. It was a bit tough to monitor with the strong wind ruffling the water and the water murking up as we stepped nearby. But we found that if we stayed still for a while, we could get the job done. Sam and I had lots of fun figuring out grassy species. We got the totally naked quadrat (the square thing) which only had naked holes, no strings attached (our proper quadrat got borrowed by Siti...see below). The holes whistled in the wind making a really strange sound!

All too soon, it was over. Err...sorry no photos of actual seagrassing from me as I left my camera on the high shore this time (getting too old to lug the cam while monitoring). Here's more photos of the team by the kindly duck and Sam on his peculiar blog and Sijie's nature scouter blog. Sorry for just linking to blog posts by other team members (I'm so slack).

Seagrassing over, we headed off to explore the shores. The tide wasn't very low, and the wind was blowing mighty strong so it was hard to take photos.

There were some interesting hard corals like this Heliofungia actiniformis which is actually a mushroom hard coral. It has long tentacles so it's sometimes mistaken for an anemone.
Those seen are usually brown, so this green was a special find for me.

In this pretty Pocillopora coral all fluffed up with polyp tentacles extended
I saw some movement! It turned out to be a tiny fluffy crab.Here you can see just one of its eyes in the middle of the photo, while the rest of its beige fluffy body blended right in with the coral. I couldn't really make out whether it was a hairy crab.

For some reason, I spotted many different kinds of fan worms today.Here's a pair next to one another, not a very common sight.

And another pair of animals that was REALLY close to one another...
Was this pair of mating Jorunna funebris nudibranchs. Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites and exchange sperm when two individuals of the same species meet one another. They do it sideways, facing in opposite directions. The front end of this nudibranch has a pair of black edged structures that look like bunny ears (these are called rhinophores). The back end of the nudibranch has a circle of fluffy feathery structures which are its breathing gills.

There was also one Gymnodoris nudibranch, a cartoon-like nudi that never fails to amuse.
And a mama Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis) who was busy creating egg capsules.She has made egg capsules that are bigger in total size than she is...wow!

And just before we headed home, I got startled by this startled octopus!Poor Siti couldn't be with us today even though she was also on Semakau. She was busy being filmed for the Once Upon A Tree series about our shores. Her segment will come up in episode 5! Isn't that fabulous, we must look out for it. Shawn Lum and the film crew were on Semakau all day from 9am. Shawn looked like he got burnt! That's real dedication.

We had a super day today. A great team, a fabulous ferry (we got the VIP ferry literally with red carpet inside and outside deck seating, which was marvelous for the trip back under the full moon...it was amazing! Thanks Shufen!), and NO MOSQUITOS!

A special thanks to all who came for today's weekday session: Robin, Jion Chun, Wilson, Paula, Marcus, Leon, Sijie, Nicholas, Mingyi, Meera, Rachel, Andy, Gaytri, Chay Hoon, Joseph Lai, Sam, Kenerf, Swee Cheng.

Other posts about this trip
A fabulous photo montage by Marcus on his budak blog
Sam's fabulous photos and lyrical thoughts on his ramblings of a peculiar nature blog
Sijie has lots of photos of seagrasses, also heron and other amazing finds on his nature scouters blog

Feb 10, 2008

TeamSeagrass at Temasek Polytechnic's Project Eco

This post came long overdue but here it is at last!
Temasek Polytechnic recently had a roadshow called Project Eco and it featured TeamSeagrass as one of its exhibitors. There were posters, brochures and cards with many, many beautiful pictures of our fascinating wildlife (and not to mention seagrasses) given out to the students.

What more, our dear Ron, who is also TP's "Web Specialist" gave a wonderful presentation on the wonderful marine life on our shores. The crowd must have been amazed by how diverse our shores really are!

Here are some pictures that were taken by the organisers of the event:

The Project Eco displays

Our panel also had the authentic TSG flag!!

This eye catching poster with pictures of the marine life at the Southern Shores are a big hit amongst the students.

The students just love it

And here's Ron with his presentation. He's got really nice photos from his uncountable trips to our shores.

This is probably the first time some students and lecturers saw how corals look like, much less imagine that they are all here in our small island.

Just look at the crowd! I've never seen so many people at the library Podium before.

And lets not forget to credit these hardworking organisers for the time and effort they spent on making our world a better place to live in.

Feb 2, 2008

2 Feb is World Wetlands Day: Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People

World Wetlands Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. It is run by The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

And seagrasses are part of the wetlands ecosystems!

What do wetlands do for us?
Why should Singaporeans care?

Destruction of wetlands around us affect us too.

An extract from the World Wetlands Day website in on the wild singapore news blog