Feb 2, 2007

Tuas with Schering Plough (1 Feb 07)

How exciting to finally meet all the volunteers from Schering Plough! Here we are, all ready to check out the Tuas shore...After an Indoor Orientation session at the very swank SP boardroom, we were shortly outdoors for the Field Orientation session!

And what a fascinating shore Tuas is! With lots of little green Spoon Seagrass (Halophila ovalis) and even a clump of long Tape Seagrass (Enhalus acoroides).Because the Tuas shore is narrow, a different method is being used to monitor it. This involves randomly 'tossing' transects like boomerangs :-) Well, something like that. Siti explains it better than me.

The Tuas shore is right next to reclaimed land but is alive with a wide variety of marine life. The tide was too high to go to the best parts (which are near the Merawang beacon). So we didn't get to check out the corals and sea fans there.But even on the high shore there was plenty to see.

We were very relieved to see LOTS of healthy carpet anemones in their usual shades of blue, green and purple. I even spotted one shy anemone shrimp just before is disappeared under the anemone. We also came across a skeleton of a strange sand dollar that we've never seen before. Hmmm...will try to find out more about it.

I'm so glad Tuas is very much alive. There was certainly none of the mass death that we saw at Chek Jawa a few weeks ago.

After the monitoring, everyone explored the shore, with Semakau guides Tiong Chin and Helen doing a little tour."Do you want to see a Giant Onch?" Tiong Chin shouts from a distance, insisting that it was most definitely larger than 2cm. Grumpily (as I usually am in the field), I shouted something rude about how I was unlikely to be impressed by his onch no matter how big it was. But when I got there, lo and behold, it was Giant indeed! About 8cm long, covered with spotted pimples, and very onch-like.After letting it settle for a while in a pool of water, it became clear that it was a nudibranch of some sort. Typical nudibranch gills emerged out its back (the bunch of brown 'finger-like' things on the right), and a tiny pair of rhinophores on its head. Wildfilms have seen these odd fugly nudis before: at Tuas, and also at Sentosa. But we still haven't figured out what they are, yet.

Dickson found it! Bravo! Dickson has also posted photos and stories on his blue heaven blog

Tiong Chin also showed everyone a horseshoe crab, sea pen and all kinds of other marvels. Here's his photos.

We're glad to have met the team at SP and look forward to more sessions at Tuas!

Thanks to Sheryl and Helen from SP who put together all the arrangements and prepared everything for all of us. Thanks also to TeamSeagrass volunteers who came introduce SP volunteers to the processes: Nor Aishah, Kok Sheng, Sijie, Dickson and Tiong Chin.

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