Dec 13, 2008

Cyrene Reef (12 Dec 08)

It's a very special monitoring trip as we also celebrate the newly wed Mr and Mrs Lam our first wedding in TeamSeagrass of two Team members!After a quick celebratory toast and cake, thanks to Andy and Nor Aishah for making the arrangements ...
We're off with Melvin in the wonderfully named boat, for a monitoring session on Cyrene Reef.

As if to celebrate this special moment, Cyrene Reef in decked out in white blossoms of the sea!
The freshly blooming female flowers of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) float on the water on long stalks in large numbers. While the entire shore is dusted in a sprinkling of tiny white male flowers like wedding confetti! The three long white petals of the female flowers generally drop off after a day, so they seem to be blooming just for the newly weds!Shufen, with her still be-glittered nails, shows how the three petals of the unpollinated female flowers 'zip up' together when submerged, and spread apart on the water surface.The petals are water repellent and only the centre of the flower is not water repellent.
The little white male flowers emerge from bracts that lie close to the ground. These male flowers have one end that is water repellent and another end that is not. That's why they appear to 'stand up' on the water surface (or even wet fingers) and also tend to cluster together in rafts.
The combined features of the male and female flowers allow the male flowers to zoom into the correct spot on the female flower! Here's a whole bunch of male flowers almost forming a queue to pollinate the female. Shufen and I also discovered that once the female flower is pollinated, the petals no long 'zip up' underwater.

It's busy work monitoring on Cyrene as we have lots of species on this reef.Although the reef is next to our busy world-class port and ringed by petrochemical plants, the meadows are very rich.Nor Aishah and Michelle are taking a very close look at everything in their transect.A beige Knobbly sea star is crossing the line, literally, as the Team checks out the meadows here. Another Knobbly was found inside Kok Sheng's transect square!

Special seagrasses seen on Cyrene include the tubular Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium).As well as the pretty Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata).There's a bunch of these seagrasses expanding on the edges of the meadow over sand.

Here you can see the smooth rhizomes of the seagrass and flattened leaf sheath.
The tips of the seagrass blade has tiny serrations which are hard to see and photograph.

Here's a thicker growth of Serrated ribbon seagrass.There's also lots of Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) which can be rather broad and long on Cyrene Reef.As well as the usual short skinny Needle seagrasses too!Cyrene also has Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) and Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), not in photos. So it's tough monitoring the meadows here as we have to look very carefully.

We had a great day out with Melvin taking care of the weather as usual!

Thanks to everyone who came to help monitoring: Nor Aishah, Jerald, Hannah, Chay Hoon, Michelle, Marcus, Kok Sheng, Chee Kong and Chee Kong's colleague, Robin, Wei Ling and of course the new Mr and Mrs Lam: Kevin and Shufen! Congratulations once again. And thanks to Andy for preparing the cake even though he couldn't make it for the trip.

After the monitoring, we had a quick look around at this beautiful living reef. More on these blog posts.

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