Jan 2, 2007

A frolicking great start to 2007

Hello Seagrassers (Seagrassers = contracted form of Seagrass-Watchers)! I hope everyone had a great festive season and start to the new year. If you're anything like me, you'd be sporting a few extra pounds and a rotund belly after all the festive feasting!

Team Seagrass spent the new year with the green and grassy denizens of Chek Jawa. We were joined by Chay Hoon of WildFilms and Joe Lai who did a survey of coastal plants of CJ.

It wasn't just a fun trip though, we were Seagrassers with a mission, and that was to do a bit of Halophila beccarii spotting and to plot the areas suitable for Seagrass-Watch transects.

Halophila beccarii has a relatively restricted distribution worldwide and is probably the hardest to come by on Singapore's shores. Currently, this species has only been recorded at CJ, where its distribution is now restricted to northern part of CJ in isolated patches on highly exposed sandy areas, where no other seagrass species find palatable.

And so we trekked across the flats of CJ, with a single-mindedness rarely seen (if ever) on previous recce trips. The reward was sweet and the weary pilgrims rejoiced by going down on all fours to meet these enigmatic little plants (and they were very little).

we then went on to do more important things

ok, Wei Ling was doing important things. Shufen and I decided that the time was nigh for a bout of "seagrass dance of joy". Don't worry, you'll all get to learn it during the orientation sessions!

For reasons we have yet to understand, most of us were gripped by the urge to get down on all fours and close to the ground. Especially Shufen...

Here she is examining Wei Ling's foot (there was good reason for this, ask Wei Ling the next time you see her)

And here she is being enamoured by a lovely little seahorse

and again...

while Chay Hoon and Wei Ling look on

Team Seagrass also found these freaky-looking (freaky being a widely used scientific term ;)) seagrasses

The H. ovalis on the left have an unusual brown pigmentation, a case of seagrass sunburn perhaps? The picture on the left shows seagrasses with what look like bleached blonde tips.

The rest of the seagrasses look relatively healthy and seem to be making a good comeback after the algal blooms over the September - November months.
Clockwise from top left: Halophila beccarii, Halodule sp., Halophila spinulosa and Thalassia hemprichii.

But other orgnisms didn't seem to chuffed, like the carpet anemones, which we think have been affected by the amount of freshwater input from the recent heavy rains.

And as always, the non-seagrass inhabitants of CJ never fail to enthrall us, from this tiny seahorse

to the numerous shore birds feeding at the waters edge

We even spotted a Great Billed Heron feeding

And the clincher, a photo of Ria (albeit from a distance).

This one is shot in stealth mode and from a distance. Pictures of Ria are pretty hard to come by because she's usually the one taking the photos :)

In keeping with tradition on its hallowed ground, we made a New Years' Day toast to Chek Jawa- may there be many more years of untouched glory - and to Team Seagrass :)

The first New Years' Day toast to CJ, just after deferment was announced.

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