Oct 30, 2008

Talks about our reefs, marine biodiversity and Chek Jawa!

This weekend, Siti, Robin, Jeff, Adelle and other TeamSeagrass friends from NParks are giving exciting talks on "Reefs Rock!", "Marine Biodiversity and You", "Chek Jawa: Nature Beckons" and lots of other nature and environmental topics at the Clean and Green Singapore launch at the Marina Barrage.

The Young Seagrassers of Labrador will also have an exhibit of seagrasses.

Come and support them!

31 Oct-2 Nov: Nature talks at Clean and Green Singapore

Thanks to Lim Wei Ling, here's more details of nature, environmental and sporting talks at the upcoming Clean and Green Singapore launch this weekend.

31 Oct (Fri)

1800-1830hrs: "Frogs of Singapore" by Dr Leong Tzi Ming

1 Nov (Sat)

1030-1100hrs: "Cycling- The Greener Way To Go" by Joseph of Terra Outdoors

1100-1130hrs: "Organic Gardening in Urban Singapore" by Henry Yeo

1130-1200hrs: "Marine Biodiversity and You" by Siti Maryam

1230-1300hrs: "CIB- Plant Disease" by Matthew Tan

1400-1430hrs: "Let the dragons fly - showcasing dragonflies in Singapore" by Robin Ngiam

1500-1530hrs: "Reefs Rock!" by Jeffrey Low

1600-1630 hrs: "Chek Jawa: Nature Beckons" by Adelle Wang

1730-1800hrs: "Introduction to Inline Skating and Safety Etiquette" by Jason Ng of Skateline /Skate Assist Volunteer (SAV)

2 Nov (Sun)

1230-1300hrs: "Marine Biodiversity and You" by Siti Maryam

1300-1330hrs: "Going Green with Singapore's Native Plants" by Joyce Foo

1330-1400hrs: "Let the dragons fly - showcasing dragonflies in Singapore" by Robin Ngiam

1400-1430hrs: "Organic Gardening in Urban Singapore" by Henry Yeo

1430-1500hrs: "Carbon Footprint and You" by Hassan Ibrahim

1500-1530hrs: "Introduction to Inline Skating and Safety Etiquette" by Jason Ng of Skateline /Skate Assist Volunteer (SAV)

More details on the Clean and Green Singapore website.

2009 monitoring dates!

The tide tables are out and we've decided on our trips for next year. We've slotted the trips to Chek Jawa and Pulau Semakau on weekends, but Sentosa dates are on weekdays.

10 Jan (Sat): Chek Jawa (CJ-01)1400-1900hrs
12 Jan (Mon): Sentosa (SN-01) 1630-1930hrs
7 Feb (Sat): Pulau Semakau (PS-01) 1400-2000hrs
29 Mar (Sun): Chek Jawa (CJ-02) 0600-1000hrs
1 Apr (Wed): Sentosa (SN-02) 0700-1000hrs
1 May (Fri) (public holiday): Pulau Semakau (PS-02) 0700hrs-12noon
10 Jun (Wed): Sentosa (SN-03) 0600-0900hrs
27 Jun (Sat): Chek Jawa (CJ-03) 0700hrs-12noon
26 Jul (Sun): Pulau Semakau (PS-03) 0700hrs-12noon
21 Aug (Fri): Sentosa (SN-04) 0600-0800hrs
23 Aug (Sun): Chek Jawa (CJ-04) 0600-1000hrs
18 Oct (Sun): Pulau Semakau (PS-04) 1500-2000hrs

Timing is an estimate, to be confirmed closer to the date (depends on transportation time etc)

These dates have also been updated on the FAQs.

Those already on the team can sign up for these dates on the teamseagrass yahoo group.

Not yet a member? To join the team, simply send the following details
(a) your full name
(b) your age
(c) your email address
(d) your contact number
(e) any previous experience
to Ria at hello@wildsingapore.com, please put "TeamSeagrass" in your subject header.

See you at these monitoring trips!

Oct 25, 2008

What's killing our turtles, dugongs?

The Daily Mercury, Mackay Queensland Australia, 25 Oct 08;

DENISE Abraham is furrowing her brow.

She is deeply concerned about the spate of sea animals that have washed up on Armstrong Beach this month.

Ms Abraham said in the past four weeks two turtles and two dugongs had been spotted dead just above the water line.

"I have in lived in Armstrong beach for the past 18 months and never come across anything like this before," she said.

"I want to know why this is occurring."

The Environmental Protection Agency downplayed the deaths attributing them to natural causes.

A spokesperson said all the animals appeared to have died of natural causes without any evidence of boat strike or other human interference.

"During the nesting season turtles use a lot of energy and are more vulnerable to disease, weakness, and predators," the spokesperson said.

"Any one of these factors combined with recent heavy weather conditions may have contributed to the recent strandings."

The spokesperson said it was possible that fresh water and sediment from flooding earlier in the year may have affected seagrass growth in the area.

"As seagrass is the main food source for both turtles and dugongs this may have been a contributing factor to one or more of the recent strandings."

The spokesperson said the strandings in the Mackay area this month were consistent with stranding numbers that might be expected at this time of year and those from previous years.

"Turtles are more frequently found on beaches at this time of year, and will generally be either nesting or basking," the spokesperson said.

"Turtles bask on shore for reasons such as resting, escaping predators and to regulate their body temperature."

Oct 21, 2008

Labrador angels at work (16 Oct 08)

The young seagrassers have done another monitoring session at Labrador and in their post explain the difference between silt, fine sand and shell. Read more about it on their labrador blog.
They are also preparing a booth at Clean and Green Singapore 2008 (CGS 2008) at the Marina Barrage from the 31st Oct (Friday) to 2nd Nov (Sunday)! Do come and support them!

Oct 19, 2008

Chek Jawa (18 Oct 08)

The Team is out in full force today with nearly 30 people to monitor the beautiful marine meadows of Chek Jawa.
Besides the usual team, we also had Dr Dan Rittschof of Duke University with us to consolidate the findings of work done by Kok Sheng on the mass death on Chek Jawa in early 2007. Siva and Airani also came to help Dr Dan do the survey. The film crew were also with us again.

There were plenty of hands to help out today.After a quick briefing, we all headed off to do the check up on Chek Jawa.Half of the team headed out under a blue blue sky to the far far Northern sandbar.It's quite a long walk!The other half did the site closer to the shore.All too soon, the job was done, and Siti takes a group photo of some of the Team, with the Chek Jawa boardwalk and viewing tower in the background.

Chek Jawa's seagrasses seem to be doing well.Here's a typical view of a patch of Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) and Fern seagrasses (Halophila spinulosa).Fern seagrasses are made up of tiny little leaflets.

Because Chek Jawa is so lush, it's important to look carefully. Not all leafy things are seagrasses.The long feathery green things on the right are a green seaweed (Caulerpa taxifolia).While these fine feathery green things are another kind of green seaweed (Caulerpa sertularioides).Thin and narrow Needle seagrasses (Halodule sp.) are also commonly seen on Chek Jawa.Again, a closer look is important, because the feathery stuff is a green seaweed (Caulerpa mexicana).The Ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) is only commonly seen on Chek Jawa. It has a smooth rounded tip without serrations. Here you can see the difference between seagrasses with and without epiphytes (stuff growing on the leaf). The patch of Ribbon seagrass at Chek Jawa has expanded tremendously!Another special seagrass seen on Chek Jawa is Beccarii's seagrass (Halophila beccarii). This tiny seagrass has long small leaves emerging in a rosette. So far, we have only found it on Chek Jawa and Sungei Buloh. One other seagrass found on Chek Jawa is the Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), but I didn't go to the area where it's found and thus missed taking a photo of it.
Seagrasses and the seaweeds that are entangled among them, provide hiding places for all kinds of tiny animals. Many are well camouflaged, like this spider crab (left) and elbow crab (right).
The roots of seagrasses stabilise the sediments allowing small burrowing animals to settle down. Like this tiny sea pen.
Seagrasses are an important nursery for all kinds of animals. Eggs are often laid on and among seagrasses, like this white ribbon of eggs.Here's a closer look at the egg mass with the tiny eggs embedded in the ribbon.The most exciting find of the day were several small baby Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) in the seagrass meadows! This is the first time for me to see babies on Chek Jawa! We were fortunate today to hae the Star Trackers with us and I'm sure they will post more about these finds.

There were lots of other sightings too! Here's some sightings on the wild shores of singapore blog and the Chek Jawa project blog by Kok Sheng.

We stayed on till a little after sunset and everyone made it back safely. Thanks to Lilyana for taking care of the head counting and looking after this huge group all the way there and back. Thanks everyone, for another succesful monitoring trip: Lilyana, Dawn, Kenerf, Vyna, Mizuki, Jocelyne Sze, Chay Hoon, Dewei, June, Anuj, ShinYee, ShinYin, Hannah, Suryati, Steve, Andy, Kah Ming, Edwin, Suizlyn, Michell, Nor Aishah, Robin, Chun Fong. And it was a treat to have Dr. Dan, Airani, Siva, Kok Sheng, Chee Kong and Sijie join us too.

Oct 18, 2008

Sentosa (17 Oct 08)

It's that time of the year for evening tides and under a gloomy sky, the Team assembles to monitor Sentosa.We are being filmed! Siti and Wei Ling had been hard at work even before we arrived. Here they are giving the briefing before we begin. And then we were off.Andy shares monitoring methods with first-timers Ian and Ms Hirano of NEC. While the others are spread out on this rubbly reef to check out the seagrasses.Although this stretch of natural shore at Sentosa faces our busy world-class container ports, it still has lush growths of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) and Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
Both kinds of seagrasses are doing very well! There are large, healthy patches of them all over the shore.
Today, there was a huge bloom of Hairy seaweeds (Bryopsis sp.) which washed up in large quantities on the shore.The seaweeds also bunged up the transect square so they had to be removed every time before taking the next reading. More about Bryopsis and seaweed blooms on the wild shores of singapore blog.Even as the sun sets over the industrial installations at Jurong Island, the Team continues their work.
The Sentosa shore is too narrow for the usual kind of set up with the transect tapes. So we do a random sampling here.

When we were done, we took a quick look around the shore and saw the usual hard and soft corals, as well as some red egg crabs and an octopus! There was also a Giant carpet anemone with an anemone shrimp!

The weather held and it didn't rain like yesterday. So we had a nice cool evening trip.

Thank you to all who came to help: Andy, Marcus, Ivan, Jiunn Hui, Charmaine and our special guests Ian and Ms Hirano.

Oct 14, 2008

Seagrasses at Labrador

The young seagrassers have uploaded a fact sheet on Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), one of our special seagrasses found at Labrador.As well as Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), the longest seagrass found on our shores.

Go to their Labrador blog for more details!

Oct 13, 2008

An acre of seagrass is worth about US$4,600 per year

An acre of seagrass -- the main money machine when it comes to supporting fish, crabs and other lagoon life -- is worth about $4,600 per year in the recreational and commercial fishing it supports, the study says.

Lagoon worth $3.7B to Brevard and beyond
New study looks at the value estuary brings to region
Jim Waymer, Florida Today 13 Oct 08;

What's the Indian River Lagoon worth? About $3.7 billion, a new study says.

The one-year, $112,000 effort examined benefits of the 156-mile-long estuary that spans Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.

Officials hope to use the new figures for the estuary to leverage future government money for more projects to restore its habitats -- and preserve it as economic driver.

"I think the Indian River Lagoon is a tremendous draw," said Ron Pritchard of Merritt Island, a former Brevard County commissioner and a key advocate on boating issues. "It's one of the reasons I moved here."

Specifically, the study said activities dependent on the lagoon generated $630 million in income to local residents in the five counties, $112 million in state and local tax revenues, and 15,000 full- and part-time jobs.

The total economic value in Brevard topped $1.2 billion, including about $100 million in income to residents and 3,112 full- and part-time jobs.

An acre of seagrass -- the main money machine when it comes to supporting fish, crabs and other lagoon life -- is worth about $4,600 per year in the recreational and commercial fishing it supports, the study says.

Living within about a third of a mile from the lagoon adds $20.3 billion to real estate values in Brevard and $47 billion to the five-counties along the lagoon, which include Brevard.

The study, based on 2007 figures, found:

# $2.1 billion in recreational spending and use value related to the lagoon. Use value is the additional amount people would be willing to pay to recreate on the lagoon.

# $3.4 million in "non-use" value, which is the maximum amount residents and visitors are willing to pay to maintain the Indian River Lagoon in its current condition.

# $47 billion in total contribution of the lagoon to 2007 property values.

# $91 million in restoration, research and education value -- which ishow much third parties, such as the government, are willing to pay to conduct research, restoration and education activities.

# $3.8 million in the dockside market value of commercial fish harvested from the lagoon and the amount consumers are willing to pay for lagoon fish.

# Recreational and non-use value of the lagoon would increase by about $80 million a year, with significantly improved water quality and a greater diversity of wildlife.

Economists at the firm Hazen and Sawyer of Hollywood conducted the study for the St. Johns River Water Management District and South Florida Water Management District, which split the cost.

The lagoon's economic impact hadn't been examined since 1995, when a study calculated the lagoon's value at about $731 million annually.

That study only included developed properties, however, while the new, broader study considered all properties.

Troy Rice, director of the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, confirmed that such studies can justify future government spending on preservation.

"It will certainly be helpful to have this information when we speak to the federal and state legislatures," Rice said.

Oct 1, 2008

Cyrene Reef, new seagrass record for Singapore and more!

The latest Seagrass-Watch newsletter is out! And as usual, it's packed with lots of wonderful updates.Siti shares about our exploits with a focus on Cyrene Reefs. And highlights the new record of Halophila decipiens in our waters! She shared more about it during our recent Orientation.Seagrass-Watch shares more about their new activity books, which are really marvellous fun. Wei Ling made copies for those who attended the Orientation. You can download these and other educational materials from the Seagrass-Watch website.

Besides lots of updates from Australia, there were also updates from some exotic seagrass meadows.Like Kuwait,The Maldives,And Papua in Indonesia! Our work at TeamSeagrass contributes to a global effort to understand and protect seagrasses everywhere!There's also a whole section about sea cucumbers, those curious creatures we often encounter on our seagrass meadows too.

Download the PDF of the Seagrass-Watch newsletter to read the full articles!

You can join TeamSeagrass any time of the year. Although we only have Orientation once a year, you can easily learn on-the-job when you join us. More about how to join the Team.