Mar 26, 2007

HOT Seagrass Weekend!

This last weekend was a seagrass extravaganza. With four back-to-back HOT events, some of which were literally scorching.

HOT event #1: TeamSeagrass Workshop 24 Mar 07

Baffled by seagrass IDs? Wondering what's the deal with the transect lines and quadrats? Puzzled by why we measure the things we measure?All these and more were made clear when Len McKenzie and Rudi Yoshida from Seagrass-Watch HQ (Australia) gave TeamSeagrass a special workshop. In a classroom session held at NParks BioD's fabulous briefing room, we learned everything we wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

The briefing also gave us a deeper appreciation of the importance of seagrasses and the many threats to this special ecosystem throughout the world. We are truly fortunate to have good stretches of this threatened ecosystem on our very own shores. And glad to be making a difference for them.Siti also gave a presentation on what we've been up to.

And shared some preliminary findings from all your hard work in data collection.Seagrassers had lots of fun immediately putting the new knowledge into practice. Checking out the live seagrasses which were set up in a tank, specially for the workshop.

The tiny features of seagrasses are quite fascinating!

Even better seen through the fancy microscopes provided by NParks.

Marcus tried to photograph the tiny bits seen through the microscope. But alas, this approach didn't work.

The workshop proceedings provides lots of useful information for TeamSeagrass!If you missed the workshop and would like a copy of the proceedings, just email Ria at (put "TeamSeagrass Workshop Proceedings" in the subject line)

Len and Rudi brought along lots of lovely seagrassy presents of newsletters and bookmarks!NParks BioD friends really made TeamSeagrass felt welcome!Thank you everyone for making the workshop possible!

For coming to the workshop: Anil, Annabelle, Chay Hooon, Gaytri, Helen, Jo, Lyn, Marcus, Qie Lan, Ron, Genevie, Faizah, Laimun, Ching Ling, Jocelyne, Choon Beng, Tay SL, Serena and Christina.

For help in setting up the tanks: Kevin, Wilson and Robin.

HOT event #2: TeamSeagrass Makes the News!

While Len was hard at work giving the workshop, others were busy sharing the TeamSeagrass story with the media.Charming Shufen makes even wilted and tanked seagrasses come alive with stories about their special role.

Yes, we've decided to go public with TeamSeagrass! And what better occasion than during Len and Rudi's visit to Singapore!

Other special guests for the workshop were Choo Chee Kuang (left) and Dr Chua Ee Kiam (right).

Choo runs Seagrass Watch at Pulai just opposite our Tuas monitoring site, and also champions the Save our Seahorses campaign in Malaysia. It was such a treat to have him with us to share his vast experience about seahorses, seagrasses and shore stuff.

Dr Chua is of course Singapore's renown nature photographer and author. He shared his latest book about Singapore's shores with the media too! (Photos of Dr Chua by Mr Wong Tuan Wah)

And of course, Siti shares the TeamSeagrass story! Bravo!

Here is CNA's media report about TeamSeagrass!
Nature conservationists focus on seagrass to preserve eco-system
Channel NewsAsia 24 Mar 07

and the video is on the CNA website too!

Hot event #3: Cyrene Reef with Len, Rudi and Choo 24 Mar 07

Earlier that morning, TeamSeagrass were out at Cyrene Reef to show this fantastic reef to Len, Rudi and Choo.Here's the usual hearty TeamSeagrass group photo!

And we were off into the sunny morning to explore this vast reef.Len, Rudi and Choo were hassled by Siti, Shufen and Wei Ling about all things seagrassy.

Rudi identified yet ONE more species of seagrass on Cyrene: Cymodocea rotundata, bringing the total at Cyrene to 8 species! WOW! Amazing for a reef that's smack in the middle of busy shipping lanes and ringed by petrochemical plants and container terminals.Cyrene reef has a patch with lots of sea stars. All, of course, busy making new sea stars.

And other echinoderms like cushion stars and pencil urchins!

The sunny morning turned into a REALLY hot day and TeamSeagrass got well roasted. Shufen, Wei Ling and Siti decided to just sit in the cool water at the end of the trip. Alas, I didn't get a photo of that.

For more stories and photos, see blog entries by Seagrassers who came for the Cyrene trips: the budak blog, tidechaser blog and blue heaven blog.

Hot event #4: Semakau Monitoring 25 Mar 07

Bright and early the very next morning, TeamSeagrass were out on Pulau Semakau with Len and Rudi for the field portion of the workshop and to do some monitoring.

On arrival, TeamSeagrasser-Semakau guide Ron Yeo gives an impromtu introduction to the Landfill and the intertidal wonders of Pulau Semakau.

We take the traditional Team photo just before bashing through the mosquito-infested trail of the forested portion of Pulau Semakau to reach the shore.

Reaching Semakau's vast seagrass meadows, Len holds the Team enthralled as he explains the finer elements of monitoring.

Under Len's guidance, one team starts off the first transect.

Then everyone heads off to the transects, to put into practice what we've learnt.

Semakau's shores are enormous!

Meanwhile, Nigel brings the media to have a look at the coral reef edge. The amazing reef animals do Pulau Semakau proud!It was another SCORCHING sunny day!

After a thorough wash up with lots of water specially provided by NEA...

...Mr Poi from NEA drives us to have a look at the Southern Islands from the landfill.Helen, another TeamSeagrasser-Semakau guide, gives the commentary along the way.

During the stopover, some Team members spotted a shark swimming in the large lagoon within the seawalls! Wow!

For more photos and stories about the Semakau adventure, see koksheng's blog. Ron also has a very informative entry in his tidechaser blog about the day, outlining things like how you CAN get more than 100% if you add seagrass and algae % cover. As well as many delightful finds such as nemos! Although Ron has been out with TeamSeagrass countless times, it was the first time he got to do monitoring because he's constantly being arrowed to do other things on the occasions. And MORE photos by Kevin Lam.

What a HOT seagrass weekend!

Thanks to all TeamSeagrassers who came for the monitoring: Anil, Annabelle, Dickson, Gaytri, Helen, Jo, Kok Sheng, Lyn, Marcus, Qie Lan, Ron, Vyna, Genevie, Yikang, Laimun, Ching Ling.

Mr Poi and his colleagues at NEA, as always, took the best care of all our needs. With courtesy bus transfers, an impromtu landfill tour, providing LOTS of washing up water and access to the much-needed office water cooler. Thank you!

It was a nerve-wrecking, break-neck build up to a no-sleep weekend. At the end of it all on Sunday, the exhausted Team Leads could finally fall sick and catch up on sleep. Thank YOU to Siti, Shufen and Wei Ling most especially for all the hard work put into making this weekend possible!

Apologies once again to those who got kicked off boats because Ria couldn't count to 12, others who got missed out in namelists, heart attacks due to extreme lateness and other inadvertent errors and omissions!

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