Apr 8, 2007

Sentosa 8 Apr 07 (Sun)

TeamSeagrass was all ready for monitoring early this morning...
After the traditional 'TeamSeagrass Pose', Shufen and Wei Ling explained the special 'random' method that we would employ on Sentosa. The team got ready to do their thing....but the tide was still high!

And it stayed high! Yesterday, Shufen and Wei Ling also experienced an unusually higher tide at Labrador. Ron said the guides at Semakau yesterday also felt the tide was unusually high.

We are perplexed. What could have caused this? Glaciers melting? Effect of the recent tsunamis? Bad algorithms for predictions in the tide tables? We haven't a clue. (It certainly wasn't us reading the tide tables wrongly :-) We triple checked that as soon as we got back).

The area we were supposed to monitor is next to the seawall on the left of the photo. This area never poked out of the water in the entire three hours that we were there. Usually, at the tides stated in the tide tables, this area would have been well exposed for at least two hours.
But TeamSeagrass is never put off even by nature-defying situations.We simply went straight to the next item on the agenda: exploring the shore.

Among the highlights spotted were Giant reefworms aplenty. With an endearing scientific name (Eunice aphroditois, the worm of love?), growing up to a metre in length, and the grossest tentacles surrounding its mouth, this worm inspires morbid fascination. Half of Shufen's breakfast breadroll was sacrificed into trying to lure these beasts out of their lairs in the coral rubble. (But we ate the raisins in the bread because we thought worms shouldn't eat too much sugar).

There was also a bloom of Bryopsis, a feathery green seaweed that would be enchanting if it didn't muck up the water for metres and pile up in rotting mats on the shore. Since Siti wasn't around, we could express some admiration for the seaweeds. We spotted many clumps of the strange shiny bubble-like green seaweed (Boergensenia sp.) and club-shaped furry seaweed (Neomeris sp.) which often also has a white 'stem'.

When the tide is high (or refuses to fall), it is also a good opportunity to explore the high shore!
And we were fortunate that Ron and friends were also on the shore to explore the amazing natural rocky cliffs of Sentosa.

Sentosa has the stunning Raffles pitcher plants (Nepenthes rafflesiana) which are considered rare in Singapore. They clambered all over the tops of cliff-side trees, their pitchers hanging like jugs, and flower spikes waving in the air.
Vilma points out that the pitchers that hang freely look like urinals, while pitchers lying on the ground are squat and look like toilet bowls.
These pitcher plants are large and quite majestic! There were lots of flowering spikes, and even developing fruits! For more about the Raffles pitcher plants see Joseph Lai's eart-h.com website.

On the cliffside, Vilma also pointed out the beautiful wild Ixora that is considered rare in Singapore. The bright orange flowers turn into red berries that ripen black. She also spotted wild orchids growing on the cliff side! I tried to climb up to get a closer shot and caused a mini-landslide on the very crumbly cliffside rocks. November explained the geography of these cliffs and how the bizarre shapes and caves formed through natural processes (as opposed to unnatural processes of me poking at the flaky rocks).

There were lots of other sightings, insights and stories. Ron shared his view of the Onch Kingdom on his tidechaser blog; while Dickson reveals insights into weeds and worms on the blue heaven blog.

Thank you to the Team who turned up: Dickson, Michell, Suizlyn, Jingkai, James, Jo, Sijie, Grace, Gaytri and Nor Aishah.

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