Jan 24, 2008

Sentosa (24 Jan 08)

A cool evening over Sentosa and you can see the seagrasses and marinelife on this marvellous natural shore.We wasted no time (not even taking the traditional group photo) and got down to monitoring the seagrasses straightaway. This natural shore outside the sea wall has lots of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) and Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis). The tide was not very low but the team worked fast in the fading light.

Sam and Kenef joined us shortly, having rushed in from work. And we went exploring.This Sentosa shore has lots of living corals. And many of the kind that glows in the dark at sunset.Living corals are a colony of animals called polyps. And while some may appear to be dead rocks, a closer look will reveal the tiny polyps and the tiny hard skeleton that each produces.
While most corals are immobile, some like this one, are free living and unattached as adults. This is a mushroom coral (probably Herpolitha limax).
There are also soft corals. They are colonial too, being made up of tiny animals that live in a shared leathery tissue. So they are sometimes also called leathery corals.Robin found a tiny flatworm! These worms are really flat and sometimes mistaken for nudibranchs.Later on, I saw one that was the 'normal' size...as big as the palm of your hand! It's quite a handsome worm.The shores were covered in the green hairy seaweed (Bryopsis sp.). And sharp-eyed Sam spots the little hairy slugs that are usually seen in this seaweed. The seaweeds are also coated in tiny beachfleas!
We saw lots of Copperbanded butterflyfishes (Chelmon rostratus) today! Siti says this is a sign that the shore is healthy and doing well. Some pools had several of these colourful fishes. When you see them edgewise, they almost disappear!

All too soon, we had to call it a day. While some of the more hungry ones left early, Sam and Kenef carried on until the tide came all the way in. Sam shares what they saw in his the wilder side of Sentosa, without the alcohol on the ramblings of a peculiar nature blog.

Thank you to all who came for the monitoring today: Robin, Edmund, Michelle, Vyna, Jerald and Sam and Kenef for keeping us company.

Jan 20, 2008

First TeamSeagrass monitoring for 2008: Chek Jawa (20 Jan 08)

The Team was back in booties and on the shores this hot HOT afternoon.
Sam was Field Coordinator (front and centre) and got everyone finally on the shores after many false starts.
We had quite a lot of first timers aka Green Grassers, so Siti did a quick quiz on "Is this Seagrass?" Everyone passed with flying colours.
Then it was straight to work on those transects. The day was not only hot, but also VERY windy. Which made laying the tape a bit of a challenge.

Today there was also a Chek Jawa public walk on at the same time.So there were lots of intriguing pots of finds by the eagle-eyed Hunter Seekers of the Chek Jawa guiding team. Ron's tidechaser blog has more about the public walk.

What we couldn't miss was the heaps and heaps and HEAPS of sea hare eggs all over the seagrass meadows.Someone remarked that they looked like pink bee hoon!

And the sea hares were everywhere too! They are the Hairy sea hare (Bursatella leachii).They were BIG and many had orange 'hairs'. Usually, they are a more boring brown.Like this one which is all stretched out in its full glory. Sea hares have two pairs of 'tentacles'. One pair in front of the head (oral tentacles) and another pair on top of the head (rhinophores).They were found all over the place. Many in huddles...ermh probably getting ready to lay MORE eggs? Usually, we see lots of these sea hares for a time, and then none at all again for a long time.

This explosion of sea hares reminds us of our first monitoring in 2007, also on Chek Jawa. Wow! This shows that by simply visiting our shores regularly we learn something about the seasonal cycles that affect them.

Very quickly the Team were done and we met up on the Northern shore where the Transect 2 people were.

The Lesser-crested terns (Sterna bengalensis) were resting on the shores where they usually do, right at the tip of the Northern sand bar.

The northern shore is where the Button shells can be found in the thousands!
They lie just beneath the sand, leaving tiny tell-tale holes.
Time for another group shot!
We decided to check out the shore for Halophila beccarii, a rare seagrass that is still found on Chek Jawa. We did find patches of it.
On the way back to House No. 1, Siti and Shufen look for and take back seedlings of Rhizophora stylosa, a rather rare mangrove tree that is still found here and there on Chek Jawa. They will be growing these seedlings for a replanting effort.

On the boardwalk on the way back, the Team saw a Long-tailed macaque. A hornbill was also spotted!

A quick washup, a drink and snack and we were soon back at Ubin Jetty.

In the late afternoon sun, Ubin town is particularly picturesque.And the shore line just amazing under the blue blue sky.It was a great day out, and we did a lot of work and had fun too!

A last shot of some of the Team before we headed back to the mainland.

Thank you Sam for being our Field Coordinator for the Day. We know how much work it is and really appreciate it. And to all the Equipment Marshalls (Gaytri, Hannah, Sijie) who got all the equipment sorted out and cleaned.

Also a big thank you to Andy, Charles, Fiona, Yee Sum, Jion Chun, Kenerf, Kevin, Hui Guang, Meerna, Michell, Nicholas, Robin, Jerald, Sereena, Suizlyn, Zhigang and Lucy.

Other blog entries about the trip
on Sijie's nature scouter blog

Jan 16, 2008

Save our Seahorses Newsletter, Jan 08

Choo Chee Kuang of Save our Seahorses is TeamSeagrass' counterpart in Malaysia, just across the narrow Straits of Johor, opposite our Tuas monitoring site.

Read all about their work in the Jan 08 issue of the Save our Seahorses Newsletter, it is now online (PDF).

There's a report on their conservation work, as well as a disturbing fall in numbers of sea horses and pipefishes ...
as well as other interesting articles about pygmy seahorses and more!

See also these recent articles about seagrasses at Pulai, Johor

My Johor: The simple life at Sungai Pulai
R. Sittamparam, New Straits Times 17 Jan 08;

Seagrass worth millions of ringgit lie unprotected in Malaysian waters
Food for marine life under threat
Nisha Sabanayagam, New Straits Times 10 Jan 08;