Dec 31, 2007

Singapore Celebrates our Reefs: International Year of the Reef 2008


2008 is International Year of the Reef!

And many of the groups and individuals active in Singapore marine conservation have come together to consolidate activities and share about our reefs and shores.

You CAN make a difference for our reefs and shores!

Support IYOR Singapore!
Visit our reefs and shores. Come for IYOR events. The first IYOR event is SharkWaters a charity premier in support of the "Say No to Shark's Fins" campaign in Singapore.

Display the IYOR badge on your blog and website.

Tell your friends about IYOR Singapore.

Want to know more about our reefs? Gather a group of at least 50 and invite any of these speakers to give a free talk about our reefs and shores.

Visit the IYOR Singapore blog which will feature regular articles about our reefs and shores, our marinelife, and the people who work for them.

Happy New Year!

Dec 18, 2007

Dugongs drowned in gill nets

Recently reported in Abu Dhabi, but it could happen to our dugongs too!
Abandoned drift nets are regularly seen on our seagrass meadows and shores. What tragic and unnecessary deaths. These gentle creatures don't deserve such a sad fate.

Dec 16, 2007

TeamSeagrass roundup on SeagrassWatch

Siti contributed a roundup of TeamSeagrass activities in the latest Seagrass-Watch newsletter. Re-live all the grassy moments for this first year of monitoring! Reading it, I'm amazed at what we've done in less than 12 months!

Some highlights include ...

TeamSeagrass catches the eye of even the Prime Minister!

Elsewhere in this newsletter, our humble worms from Singapore make an appearance!
And so encouraging to read about others around the world, joining in the effort to document seagrasses.So go download the latest Seagrass-Watch newsletter!
Which also has our very own butterflyfishes swimming happily in our seagrasses on the cover masthead!

Our seagrasses are wonderful and the work of TeamSeagrass made it possible to know more about them!

Dec 10, 2007

2008 TeamSeagrass monitoring dates

Here are the much awaited TeamSeagrass monitoring dates for 2008!

Next year, there were fewer daylight low tides during weekends. So this means: more weekday trips, and some very early morning trips. It will be a great adventure!

To join TeamSeagrass, see details in the FAQs.

Timing is an estimate, to be confirmed closer to the date (depends on transportation time etc)
  • 20 Jan (Sun): Chek Jawa (CJ-01)
    Depart Changi Jetty 12.30pm, end 5pm
  • 22 Jan (Tue): Sentosa (SN-01)
    Meet at Underwater World bus-stop 4.30pm, end 7pm
  • 20 Feb (Wed): Semakau (PS-01)
    Depart mainland 2.30pm, end 8pm (departure pier to be advised)
  • 10 Apr (Thu): Cyrene Reef (CR-01)
    Depart West Coast Pier 6.30am, end 10am
  • 12 Apr (Sat): Chek Jawa (CJ-02)
    Depart Changi Jetty 7am, end 12noon
  • 25 Apr (Fri): Sentosa (SN-02)
    Meet at Underwater World bus-stop 7am, end 9.30am
  • 10 May (Sat): Semakau (PS-02)
    Depart mainland 7am, end 12noon (departure pier to be advised)
  • 07 Jun (Sat): Cyrene Reef (CR-03)
    Depart West Coast Pier 6.30am, end 10.30am
  • 19 Jul (Sat): Sentosa (SN-03)
    Meet at Underwater World bus-stop 6am, end 8am
  • 20 Jul (Sun): Chek Jawa (CJ-03)
    Depart Changi Jetty 5am, end 9am (special morning trip to Chek Jawa)
  • 03 Aug (Sun): Semakau (PS-03)
    Depart mainland 4.30am, end 10am (special morning trip to Semakau, departure pier to be advised)
  • 04 Aug (Mon): Cyrene Reef (CR-02)
    Depart West Coast Pier 6.30am, end 10am
  • 17 Oct (Fri): Sentosa (SN-04)
    Meet at Underwater World bus-stop 5.30pm, end 8pm
  • 18 Oct (Sat): Chek Jawa (CJ-04)
    Depart Changi Jetty 4.30pm, end 10pm
  • 13 Dec (Sat): Semakau (PS-04)
    Depart mainland 3.30pm, end 10pm

Dec 4, 2007

5 Dec is International Volunteer Day

On World Volunteer Day, a special THANK YOU to all the volunteers of TeamSeagrass and the wonderful people who have supported the effort for our seagrasses. There is much to do and it would not have been possible without all of you.

Excerpt of message from the UN Secretary-General
on International Volunteer Day, from the world volunteer web
The challenges facing our world are vast and complex -- from resolving conflicts and building peace, to alleviating poverty and reaching the other Millennium Development Goals.

Tackling these challenges requires all of us to work together -- Governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society in its broadest sense.

Volunteers play an indispensable role in these efforts. Yet, the remarkable contribution of voluntary action around the world is not sufficiently recognized.

Full text of message on the wildsingapore news blog

Nov 25, 2007

Semakau, TeamSeagrass final monitoring for 2007

Its a bright sunny day and the seagrassers gathered at Marina South Pier, all excited to embark on the last monitoring trip for this year. They all waited and waited for this one very very late seagrasser to arrive - ME!

And so we set out on what seemed to be an extremely long boat ride to Semakau and for some strange reason, everyone needed to relieve themselves when we set foot on the island (note: Ria says to do it at the pier next time to save time and trouble).

I was assigned to site 1 transect 1 which was the furthest away as a punishment for being late. So my partners and I walked all the way to the end of the shoreline just to find that we cannot locate our stake. So Weiling tried to help by using the GPS and talking to Siti through the walkie and finally we found it (all thanks to technology).

At the meantime, we spotted this really cool looking sea anemone

So we laid out the 50m transect line and started the monitoring as we had a lot to catch up on except for poor Andy who couldn't find the tape bag and had to wait for Ron to finish so that he could start.

Oh and did I mention that the Enhalus were blooming? There were lots of the styrofoam looking male flowers everywhere. What a good sight to behold on our last trip! Its too bad I was so engrossed with the monitoring that I forgot to take a picture of them so those who caught pictures please do post them here!

It was about half an hour more till we had to leave and everyone is done and exploring our rubbish dump island. It seemed that the starfish were also "blooming" with all the procreation going around. Here are some photos of the seagrassers in action:

I've also managed to get some close shots of the tiny crabs that scamper around our feet as I brought along my long lens. Love those long pointy eyes...

There was also some live firing going on at a nearby island and we were jolted to our feet when the huge KAPOW sent shockwaves (ok, that was a little to exaggerated). In no time, the seagrassers were all caught up with photographing the huge cloud of smoke.

But it wasn't long till the sun began to set and we had to move out before the tide comes in. We took some last photos and you can see Siti in the background waving to the others to pack up and scram.

It was a good last trip for TeamSeagrass and we sure had accomplished a lot this year. So on behalf of TeamSeagrass, a big THANKS to all volunteers, coordinators, boat captains who had helped us make this a huge success. Hope to see everyone again next year!

Thanks to all who came for the monitoring session: Andy, Alex, Sijie, Dawn, Dickson, Gaytri, Helen, Kah Chine, Michell, Nor Aishah, Ron, Ru Qi, Shuan Kwee, Suizlyn, Vyna, Saravanan, Chay Hoon, Sam, Jerald, Marcus, Sze Wee, Sereena and Tze Chien.

Nov 14, 2007

More Photos from the Clean and Green Jamboree

Hello! This post is a little belated, because I am incorrigible when it comes to posting in a timely fashion.

Anyway, I wanted to share some photos of our TeamSeagrass booth at the Clean and Green Jamboree and the special visitor who came around for a visit :)

This is Nor Aishah the project manager for the TeamSeagrass display at the Jamboree. She volunteered to (read: brow-beaten) think up a wonderful display to attact people to the booth. As project manager, she was also in charge of the snacks, and she's seen here stashing them in a safe place so the little kids don't mistake them for freebies.

Here is Kok Sheng, with one of the first visitors for the day, showing the wonderful treasures that seagrass habitats hold.

In no time at all, the booth was SWAMPED with visitors which Dickson and Aishah entertain while I walk around snapping photos :)

This is one of the awesome posters that Aishah and Sijie made for the booth.

And here is Gaytri sharing seagrass stories with someone's grandma.

And rubbing sholders with PM LEE(!!) who came by our booth and asked how Chek Jawa was doing after the flash floods earlier this year. Talk about being down with it eh?

And all too soon, it was time to pack up, with Sijie and Andy ending the shift. In all, it was a fruitful day of bringing seagrass to the heartlands!

We're trying to get more involed in exhibitions, so if any of you talented seagrassers out there wanna share your poster-making, games-creating, smooth-talking skills, do drop us a line to tell us you're keen.

See you guys at Semakau!

Nov 4, 2007

TeamSeagrass at the Clean and Green Jamboree

Clean and Green Jamboree is a celebration of all things green in Singapore. Previously just a week of events, this year, it has been extended to a full month! Media reports about this event on wildsingapore.

This year is also the first time, the green theme includes seagrasses!
TeamSeagrass led by the intrepid Miss Siti (right) set up a booth at the event to share with the public about seagrasses! Together with a game designed by Nor Aishah (left), Team members used photos and posters to share about the importance of seagrasses. And Gaytri's gorgeous one-of-a-kind banner takes pride of place at the booth.

Kok Sheng shares more photos and stories on his wonderful creations blog.

Nov 1, 2007

Sentosa (27 Oct 07) and Labrador (1 Nov 07)

The Labrador Angels were back on the shore for a successful monitoring. Read all about it on their labrador blog. This trip was to make up for their earlier trip, which was rather a bit less of a success because they forgot to bring the transect squares...oops.

TeamSeagrass also monitored Sentosa a few days earlier. But I wasn't there so no photos. Siti says all went well.

Oct 28, 2007

TeamSeagrass in the news!

Kok Sheng, one of our Seagrassers was featured recently in the Chinese press...

And here is a translation of the article, courtesy of Chay Hoon...

"Like other youngsters, Kok Sheng often goes to the seaside. And he is there to be a volunteer. He is a volunteer for this green group called " Team Seagrass". The group is involved in monitoring Seagrass and other marine creatures.

For the last nine months, Kok Sheng had visited Chek Jawa@ Pulau Ubin, Pulau Semakau and Sentosa with Team Seagrass to do reccees and monitoring.

As a Team Seagrass volunteer, Kok Sheng said that they will monitor the health of the seagrass and identify the species of seagrass at the monitoring sites. The data collected at these sites will be analyzed to get a better understanding of the state of the seagrass.

If they found that the seagrass are not doing well, they will not do anything. Instead, they will let nature takes it course and let nature heals the seagrass.

In addition, he said that if action was taken by us to try to heal the seagrass, we might be upsetting the balance of nature nd disturbing the life of the marine creatures. The main objective of Team Seagrass is to collect data about the seagrass. And through these information, enable ordinary folks to understand the importance of marine creatures and that we have wonderful marine creatures in Singapore.

One of KS's most unforgettable experience was the monitoring session at Chek Jawa early this year. He said " It was raining eveyday and when we were at Chek Jawa, we found many seagrass and marine creatures dead and Chek Jawa looks like a graveyard.

He said this is because the seagrass and marine creatures can only live in salinity and the large amount of rain forced these plants and animals to live in fresh water. This result in casualties as they are unable to cope the drop of salinity in the water.

If you are interested in monitoring Seagrass, you can log on to this website : to find out more about Team Seagrass."

More links
Kok Sheng's project to monitor the recovery at Chek Jawa following the mass deaths there.
Kok Sheng's wonderful creation blog about our amazing marine and other wild life.

Chek Jawa (28 Oct 07)

The Team got completely wet this monitoring trip. Although the day started out fine and bright, it started pouring as soon as we left Changi. We huddled at Ubin Jetty until we THOUGHT the rain had eased. But as soon as we actually started monitoring, the heavens opened up!

Thus I didn't take any photos at all.

Fortunately, several Team members did, and they've posted their stories on their blogs.

From Sijie's nature scouter blog, here we were at Ubin jetty waiting for the rain to stop.
And the rain made it really hard to do monitoring...
On Kok Sheng's Chek Jawa project blog a look at the rainy shore...Despite the wet weather, Chek Jawa seems to be doing well with some recovery from the mass deaths. The day before, Kok Sheng's team saw the first Knobbly sea star for the year!

At the end of the trip, just as we were about to go home in the gathering gloom of dusk, we saw a civet cat!!More about this sighting on the wildfilms blog.

Oct 26, 2007

Cyrene Reef (26 Oct 07)

We're back on our most favourite shore!
Wow, was it hot though! Here is Robin, having laid out all the gear while the rest of us were landing.

We quickly got started on monitoring to catch the tide. I got arrowed to do Site 2 which was really far away. When we got there, we realised two of the poles that marked the start point were missing! Fortunately, spare poles were brought along. And soon Robin and Wei Ling got the missing points marked out again.

Today the Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) are blooming!The vast seagrass meadows were dotted with tiny white male flowers. Cyrene is a submerged reef that lies just opposite our container port and is flanked by Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island. And yet, it has such marvellously rich habitats.

Well, back to those blooming seagrasses...
The male flowers are really tiny (the white things) and look like bits of styrofoam floating on the water. They emerge from a large bract (see the V-shaped thing in the right photo) and tend to cluster together to form rafts.

The female flowers are much larger and have three large white petals. Here is a female flower with several male flowers clustered around the parts which count for pollination. Plant sex in action! Oops.

The seagrass meadows of Cyrene are full of life!
But you have to look closely. There's a little green fish in the left photo that matches the seagrasses perfectly. While on the right photo there's a goby that matches the sand!

The seagrasses had tiny little crabs, and rare snails. The baby flower crab is quite common, but the cylindrical seagrasses it was seen in are rare. The Black-lipped conch (Strombus urcea) is a snail on the list on Singapore's threatened animals due to habitat loss.

The seagrasses were also crawling with synaptid seacucumbers.These long delicate animals are sometimes mistaken for worms. But they are actually relatives of the sea stars, sand dollars and sea urchins!

And above the water, there's life too!I saw this little marine spider (Desis sp.) literally walking on water. This is a true spider but it lives in the intertidal. At high tide when the entire Cyrene is submerged it hides in a crevice in coral rubble, breathing from a bubble of air. At low tide. it comes out to hunt.

Among the coral rubble was also this small Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea).It had a pair of anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) which I totally missed until I processed the photo when I got home *slap forehead*.

Cyrene is like the Chek Jawa of the South. Many of the animals we encounter on Chek Jawa can also be seen on Cyrene reef.
These feathery animals are worms! Fan worms have a bristley segmented body that is hidden in a tube. Their heads are topped by feathery tentacles that emerge from the tube to gather food.

I also came across some peacock anemones!These animals are more frequently encountered on Northern shores such as Changi and Chek Jawa.

There were really small Common sea stars (Archaster typicus) everywhere today! This is quite an unusual sighting.The sand bar is also littered with sand dollars.

But what was amazing was the many small Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) that we saw today!There were red ones and brown ones.

And this poor 4-armed one which also had lost the tip of one of its remaining arms. Someone must have really chomped on it. Poor thing!
All too soon, the tide turned and the sun set. Wait a minute! We nearly forgot to take our traditional group TeamSeagrass photo!
The team is a little fried from the heat and tired from all the work and running around. So this is the best photo I took.

We missed an earlier slated trip due to boat problems. This time Shufen performed yet another miracle and got us a boat with a dinghy so it was a wonderful safe landing. Many other team members took lots of amusing photos of the landing. Here's some shared by Ron on his tidechaser blog.

Thank you to the team members who came: Chay Hoon, Gaytri, Jo, Wee Lian, Ron, Marcus, Robin, Kok Sheng and Andy.

This weekend is going to be rush of many monitoring sessions! I'm looking forward to it!

Other blogs about this trip
Ron's tidechaser blog: urchins, LOTS of knobbly sea stars and a really strange slug!
Marcus' budak blog: lots of beautiful photos of Cyrene, and of the team in action.
Andy's red dot blog with a video clip!
Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog: leaping fishes and shark egg cases