The afternoon started off well enough, we got everyone to CJ in time for the outgoing low tide. We distributed the equipment and people into various groups and then realised that I had forgotten the pencils. Spectacular start to the day indeed. Fortunately for me, seagrassers are prepared a resourceful people, so out came the pens and pencils out of nooks and crevices hitherto long-forgotten.
We walked out to the pontoon to make the descent on the ladder down to shore, and once we were on the shore, Jonathan and Sean gave the seagrass species ID briefing. Here at TeamSeagrass, we are invested in nurturing the young and the not-so-young (because we are totally not ageist) volunteers into super awesome seagrass knowledge dispensers. Sean and Jonathan did a great job with the briefing and we were off to monitor the sites.
Here is a view of the C. rotundata (we have christened it 'Ribbon Grass' because of it's fine, long leaves) meadow. It always amazes us how large this meadow has grown in the last five years. When we first started monitoring at CJ in 2007, it was suffering the aftereffects of a deluge of freshwater, and only H. ovalis (Spoon seagrass) was hardy enough to withstand the impact. Now, the meadow around the jetty is probably the largest C. rotundata meadow found in Singapore.
C. rotundata is pretty rare in Singapore because it occurs at only a handful of sites, including Cyrene Reef and Tanah Merah. To lose any of these sites has implications for the survivorship of this species in Singapore. We still don't know what the level of clonality is for this species. Seagrasses can reproduce both asexually (by sending out shoots) or sexually (by producing fruits and seeds). Asexual reproduction can in some cases, be more efficient and sometimes an entire seagrass meadow can be composed of only a few genetic individuals! As yet, we do not have this information for our seagrass meadows and species, but it would certainly be an important area to study if we were to properly manage our seagrass resources.
I was put with the seagrassers at Site 1. Here's Jocelyne and gang using the percent cover standards sheets to estimate seagrass cover in their quadrat. The standards sheets helps us improve the accuracy of the data that we collect if we use it to calibrate what we see in our quadrat and what we record on our datasheets. This helps improve the quality of the data we collect to reflect what's happening in nature.
See how much care and thought TeamSeagrass volunteers put into estimating seagrass cover and relative composition? Cheryl, Kenny and Ali are really concentrating on data collection and it brings a tear to my eye.
And how much effort goes into measuring canopy height? Laudable indeed!
But you know what they say, when all else fails, just slap on a filter - instant photographic awesomeness. There's a #teamseagrass hashtag, so if you wanna share your photos on social media, feel free to add it on.