Jul 30, 2007

Sea anemones on our seagrasses

I didn't know we had so many different sea anemones in Singapore!

And certainly didn't know there were sea anemones that settle on our seagrasses!

I've been learning so much about sea anemones from Dr Daphne Fautin, world expert on sea anemones, who is here for a few weeks just to look at our sea anemones.

Here is the tiny sea anemone that settles on seagrasses. The intrepid Yu Chen found them after crawling about on several shores over several trips!
Dr Daphne tells us that the larvae of these sea anemones settle on and eat the gonads (reproductive parts) of jellyfishes. When the jellyfish travels over seagrasses, the larvae drop off and develop into mature sea anemones!

For more about our sea anemones see the wildfilms blog in July 2007, for all the different kinds of sea anemones we saw, and what are NOT sea anemones and more!

Jul 26, 2007

A postcard from Choo

How nice! I got a postcard from Choo Chee Kuang today! If you recall, Choo runs Seagrass Watch at Pulai just opposite our Tuas monitoring site, and also champions the Save our Seahorses campaign in Malaysia. He visited TeamSeagrass in Mar 07

He writes...

"Dear Ria, hope you and the team are well. I've been to South Africa recently to attend a conference on Conservation Biology. Many speakers have urged scientists to take one further step to influence the decisions of policy makers on resource management. It reminds me that you all have been doing this so 'prehistorically' and so effectively. I really admire your passion, spirit and motivation. With fondest thoughts, Choo"

We miss you too Choo! Your visit was too short. But alas, we know you have work to do.

Sadly, this news is just in about fishermen in Pulai, severely affected by developments there. We wish you all the best Choo in your efforts for your shores.

Choo has just informed that the Save our Seahorses group have started a petition regarding the development of Pulai. They are aiming for 5,000 signatures. All are welcomed to leave their signature and comments.

"Malaysian fishermen fight to save livelihood"
By R. Sittamparam New Straits Times 26 Jul 07

GELANG PATAH: Fisherman Abdul Rahman Salleh put his 11 children through school on the money that he made catching fish in the Sungai Pulai estuary. He even bought a low-cost house in Desaru, from the income that he made selling the grouper, snapper, pomfret and lobster that he landed.

But these days, he has little to show for hours of work. "Today, we’re lucky to catch a handful of prawns," said the 55-year-old chairman of the Kampung Ladang Hujung Fishermen’s Club.

Abdul Rahman, who represents 500 fishermen from Pendas to Gelang Patah, has been forced to sell his house to make ends meet. He said the estuary’s bounty has been in decline over the last 20 years following the construction of a port, bridge and power plant.

As if that were not bad enough, there are now plans to build an industrial estate in the area which will host heavy industries. These include makers of plastics, paints, pesticides and chemical products. There will also be a chemical incinerator and facilities to process toxic and hazardous wastes.

Part of the development eats into a 91sq km area that is gazetted as protected wetlands under the Ramsar Convention. More than 900ha of mangroves could be cleared and 15ha of submerged land along the river’s west bank reclaimed, according to the mandatory study on the project’s environmental impact.

This could cause some 500 families living here to lose their traditional way of life and source of income.

The full report on wildsingapore.

Jul 15, 2007

Chek Jawa (15 Jul 07)

The Team was out again early this morning for our first monitoring of Chek Jawa after the boardwalk was completed and launched.
It was a very short low tide, we were a little late, and I had a few things to check out away from the Team so I didn't get photos of them in action. Fortunately, Dickson did a detailed 'Day in the Life of a Seagrasser' in his blue heaven blog.

Chek Jawa seems to be recovering. Colourful peacock anemones and carpet anemones were plentiful on the southern area near the beacon. Although there was a thick growth of seaweed in the area. I was so glad to see many young Gong-gong snails (Strombus canarium). Many of these snails died out during the mass deaths early this year. You can tell these snails are young ones because their shells are thin and the typical conch flared portions are not yet well developed.I also spotted a baby Biscuit sea star (Goniodiscaster scabra)!

Kok Sheng, however, discovered for me, the find of the day.The magnificent eight-armed Luidia maculata is often mistaken for a Common sea star (Archaster typicus). The Luidia sea star eats other animals, while the Common sea star grubs on gunk on the ground. Luidia has pointed tube feet and can move quite fast. The Common sea star has suckers at the tips of its tube feet.

Before I could take photos of the Team at work, I met them coming back. All done! Apparently Siti kept up the pace by poking them with a sharp pointed orange stick aka tape anchor aka tent peg.

The Team decides to check out the washing facilities at the brand new Chek Jawa visitor centre. The washing area right infront has very poor water pressure. But Andy says this helps us save water!

The area at the back has much better water pressure.Shortly after washing up all that tape and equipment, we treat ourselves to a picnic brunch at the House No. 1 patio with a gorgeous view of Pulau Sekudu and Changi.We also looked at photos of creatures seen during the monitoring. Among them, bubble snails (Cheng Puay) and a strange nudibranch, possibly Cerberilla (Sijie). Dickson and Marcus will probably share their encounters shortly on their blogs.

Siti and I check out the Research Room at House No. 1 where Siti's poster about TeamSeagrass takes centre stage! Here's a closer look at this poster.
From the room is a lovely view of the House No. 1 jetty, and the Team still resting up from their monitoring.All rested and well fed, the Team heads off to check out the all new boardwalk. And take the traditional Team photo there.Cheng Puay is arrowed to do the plants and tells us how to distinguish the different common mangrove trees.We also managed to see some fiddler crabs just before the tide rushed in. And a young water monitor lizard as well as a large but dead eel. At the pontoon, there were hordes of little fishes, which Marcus remarks will probably be good for the seagrasses as they 'fertilise' the area.

The tall Nipah palms in the back mangrove portion of the boardwalk always fascinates.Some of the younger and more energetic Team members tackled the Tower, while the rest crawled back to wait at the Information Kiosk.

We were rejuvenated only when we heard some enterprising Ubin villagers were selling cold drinks at Punai Hut where the van would pick us up. Indeed, there was a pick up full of drinks and coconuts, with a bench to sit at, and even a little radio to provide some ambience. The crowd was starting to build up, but we still managed to catch sight of a flying lizard (Draco sp.) doing a great job enticing a female by sticking out his impressive flap under his chin.

Thank you everyone who came! Annabelle, Andy, Jingkai, Dickson, Gaytri, Hannah, Cheng Puay, Kok Sheng, Sijie, Dionne, Marcus. And thank you Wilson for being there to bail us out as usual.

Team trips will pick up soon as tides occur at a less ungodly hour. So sign up quickly! Places to some locations are limited.

More blog entries about our day on Chek Jawa:
blue heaven blog more about a day in the life of a seagrasser: Part 1 and Part 2
above and under sea forest blog what we saw during the walk along the boardwalk: baby monitor lizard, termites and more
cj project blog despite the huge amount of work he had to do, Kok Sheng caught up with some interesting stuff on Chek Jawa.

Jul 9, 2007

TeamSeagrass CJ Launch Poster

There's a new poster for TeamSeagrass made specially for the Chek Jawa Boardwalk launch last Saturday. The poster is on display in the Research Room at House No. 1, but here's a sneak peak:

Visit the boardwalk and House No. 1 to view it in all its A1 glory :)