Aug 31, 2007

Sentosa (31 Aug 07)

Early this morning, a small team assembled on Sentosa for a look at the seagrasses there.This was the liveliest photo I could coax (bludgeon) out of the team. Well, it was early and some of us hadn't had breakfast yet.

The shores of Sentosa have lots of seagrasses!Here is one of the plots Marcus and I did. Nice long Tape seagrasses sprinkled with little Spoon seagrasses.

We finished quite soon as most of the team were quite experienced, and we explored a bit of the shore. The tide was already coming in by that time, so we couldn't go out to the reefs. But seagrasses are everywhere on the Sentosa shore.

Some NParks friends joined us today, and they were having a look at the seaweeds. There are quite a lot of different kinds on Sentosa.Just on one little stone, you might find several different kinds growing there.

These odd little green things are also seaweeds, as well as the brown flappy thing too.Wei Ling shares some of what she learnt recently about seaweeds. They are quite fascinating.

We also have a look at some of the coastal forest plants on this shore.Shufen shares about this special tree, the Sea Teak (Podocarpus polystachyus).
Like many of our coastal forest plants, it is endangered as their habitats vanish.

It is a conifer which produces seeds but no flowers. Instead, they have reproductive structures called cones or strobili.Male plants produce clusters of cream-coloured cones which shed whitish, powdery pollen.
Female plants produce a highly modified cone. More about this special plant on the BP-Science Centre's "Guide to Singapore mangroves"; here's the online version.

In the 'caves' of the natural cliffs facing the shore, Marcus found spiders!Here's one of them. It was just too creepy for me to go deep into the crevices. Marcus was much braver and has lovely photos of these scary spiders and other stories about Sentosa on his budak blog.

Among the pressures on this Sentosa shore are large boats travelling at high speed. Apparently, they are not supposed to go so fast. This creates strong waves which pound the plants and animals on the shore.This is why it's important for us to monitor this fabulous natural shore.

Thank you to Marcus, Jo and Leykun for coming to monitor today. Jo had to take leave just to come!

Aug 24, 2007

Seagrass Watch around the world

Here's some of what's happening with Seagrass-Watch elsewhere around the world.

Don't we wish we could ride horses when we do Transect 1 on Pulau Semakau? Like they do at Suva.
The team at Suva also makes a lively portrait too! Just like we do.

They saw a banded snake at Cawaci Ovalau; and a sea turtle at Wheelans Hut! Wow!
Some of the seagrasses elsewhere look really nice; like the ones at Noumea New Caledonia (left) and this really nice photo taken at Natadola (right).
Our seagrasses, especially at Cyrene and Semakau look quite like these too!

For more photos go to the Seagrass-Watch Gallery.

Volunteer monitoring CAN make a difference!

Volunteer monitoring of marine life CAN make a difference!

Here's some background on coral reef data
gathered by volunteers ...

From "Avoiding a Coral Catastrophe"
By Krista Mahr Time 23 Aug 07
also on wildsingapore

Bruno* says more coral data is being gathered today by NGOs than universities or national programs, particularly in developing nations.

But even in the U.S., NOAA's satellite-data program, alert system and monitoring are second to the larger network of local groups and governments keeping watch over the U.S. reefs.

"Nobody wants to pay for monitoring because it's boring," says Hodgson**.

That's why he founded Reef Check. Realizing that one man's chore might be another's hobby, Hodgson decided to fill the information gap by enlisting people who would be naturally interested in saving coral: scuba divers.

In 1997 he created a global network of volunteer snorkelers and divers, specially trained by scientists to monitor reefs using a standardized checklist. Over the past 10 years, Reef Check's volunteers have amassed a bounty of data on the world's coral.

"In the beginning, people were looking down on us, saying 'Oh, you guys are just volunteers,'" Hodgson recalls. Now, Reef Check has become one of the primary sources of scientific information about the health of coral.

*John Bruno, lead author of the study by researchers at the University of North Carolina in the U.S.: The world's first comprehensive study on coral in the Indo-Pacific region, home to 75% of the world's coral reefs, focusing on waters from Japan to Australia and east to Hawaii.

**Gregor Hodgson, executive director of the coral monitoring organization Reef Check Foundation.

Reef Check website
In Singapore, the Blue Water Volunteers conduct reef monitoring and submit data to Reef Check.

Aug 19, 2007

TeamSeagrass Angels at Labrador

This morning, Siti and I joined the Seagrass Angels at Labrador Beach with their teacher Mr Lim Cheng Puay.

It wasn't really low tide. In fact, it was rather high!

But still this dedicated team came down to do some measurements.There were lots of big waves as really humungous ships passed by, as well as lots of little boats.But still intrepid team worked on.And when it was all done, we took a group photo.

Oops, Mr Lim is obscured here.Ah, here's a better photo.For a better idea of what the young ladies were doing, see their labrador park blog, now relocated to a new site. Ladies, we weren't laughing at you. We were just too lame to get wet above our ankles. And the tide was really high then :-)

Alas, poor Labrador Beach is rather beat up by construction right on it. A cofferdam has been built on one end of it for the construction of submarine cables to Pulau Bukom. This is in preparation for reclamation for an extension of the Pasir Panjang Container Terminals.

The work includes extensive dredging with really huge machines. Here is one dredger parked just off the Labrador Jetty on the Beach. It's quite a large thing.Other stresses on the Beach include irresponsible beach visitors.I came across these leftovers from a party. It looked like the partygoers just walked away leaving everything behind! These plastic and other litter will probably be blown into the sea and on the shore if some poor cleaner didn't come by soon to tidy up. Sigh.

There have also been several massive landslides on the Beach. More about what's happening to the Beach on the wildfilms blog

TeamSeagrass monitoring on the Beach will help to keep track on the impact on all these on our marine life. The Seagrass Angels will share what they have discovered during the TeamSeagrass Orientation on 22 Sep 07 (here's more details of the event).

You CAN make a difference for our shores. Join TeamSeagrass!

Aug 7, 2007

Join TeamSeagrass!

Come and join the fun and friendly TeamSeagrass and make a difference for our shores!
The Team is having a get-together on 22 Sep (Sat) 4-8pm to celebrate a year of Watching Seagrasses. We'll reminisce about our adventures, get updates on what's been happening on our shores, and catch up with one another.

It's also time to welcome new team members!

The programme will include an Indoor Orientation session for new members, as well as a refresher for existing team members.

Not yet a team member?
Here's how to sign up for TeamSeagrass!

(a) your full name
(b) your age
(c) your email address
(d) your contact number
(e) any previous experience in field work, outdoor nature activities, volunteering in nature work, with which groups? (it's OK if you don't have any)
to Ria at
(pls put "teamseagrass" in the subject line, this email gets a lot of spam)

Please read the FAQs on TeamSeagrass before emailing me questions.

Already on TeamSeagrass? You should have received details about this event via the TeamSeagrass mailing list. If you haven't, email Ria at

Details of the Seagrass Get-Together
Date: 22 Sep 07 (Sat)
Time: 4-8pm
Venue: NParks Peirce Road Multi-Purpose Hall, Peirce Road Depot
Peirce Road off Holland Road
These is free parking at the depot, please park in an orderly manner.

Getting there by public transport
1) From Orchard MRT Station, go to the bus stop at Orchard Boulevard
2) Buses to take: 77, 174, 106, 123, 7
3) Get off at the third bus stop AFTER the Gleneagles Hospital/Botanic Gardens bus stop
4) From the bus stop walk towards the traffic light and you will see the signboard at Peirce Road that says National Parks Board. The entrance to the Depot is about 200m down Peirce Road on your left.

Please BE PUNCTUAL so we can start on time and end on time.
Bring a note-book to take notes during the session.

Aug 5, 2007

Team Seagrass at Semakau

Team Seagrass was up and about this weekend for the third monitoring session at Pulau Semakau. How time flies! It doesn't seem that long ago that we had Len and Rudi at the site for the inaugral Pulau Semakau monitoring session.

The team was there bright and early because I was trying to avoid getting the 'you-are-late look of death' from Ria. There was quite a crowd at Marina South Pier because RMBR was having their walk on the same day. After quite a bit of poking and prodding, we managed to sieve the Seagrassers from the walkers and we were off!

The team was broken up into pairs (newbies and veterans) and we set off to find our sites. Since Shufen wasn't on this trip, Robin led the way to site 1 (the furthest site from our entry point and the one people want to go to least!).

The seagrass lagoon was looking pretty good as always
Unfortunately, we didn't get as many working shots as we wanted. I blame it on the amazing stuff we always manage to uncover at Semakau - who'd want to photograph people when there's so much marine life around you?

Ria, however, managed to get an action shot of me taking a photo of seagrass (what else?) with Wei Ling and Wendy looking on (amused no doubt).

So this is a call to all seagrassers, please take photos of each other in action! Then email them to ME and I can put them into the next presentation/report/slideshow. Its a wonderful opportunity to "sabo" your friends - and we all know how much fun that can be! Photographer IDs can be changed to protect the (somewhat) innocent!

On that note, I leave you with the usual "Happy Seagrassers" photo - proof that saltwater and fresh air is an unbeatable combination for delirium!
Till next time, hug a seagrass! :)

Thanks to all the Seagrassers who came for the session: Andy, Annabelle, Chay Hoon, Yikang, Fiona, Gaytri, Hannah, Huiguang, Kok Sheng, Robin, Ron, Wee Lian, Siyang, Tiong Chin

More posts about the trip
Kok Sheng's wonderful creations blog
Tiong Chin's mountain and sea blog
Ron's tidechaser blog
Siyang's urban forest blog