Feb 8, 2009

Pulau Semakau (7 Feb 09)

A small happy team headed out yesterday to check out the vast seagrass meadows on Pulau Semakau.Although these meadows lie next to our landfill and near major petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom, the shore is still very much alive!The meadows are vast and the team is spread out over more than a kilometre. The Labrador Angels are with us doing the last transect of Site 3 and they are already getting started. While the team doing Site 2 is settling into their site. Meanwhile, the team doing the furthest site is still walking out to their Site 1!Our 50m transect tapes look so puny in this vast meadow!At Site 3, Shufen points out the sediments have disappeared as we can't even peg down the tape. So we wind it around the stake instead. We also notice lots of sponges have started growing in the monitoring site. Is the seagrass moving? Has the sediment base changed? This is why we need to monitor our meadows!
Shufen shares with Joe and Ivan how the Serrated riboon seagrasses (Cymodocea serrulata) at Pulau Semakau are long and may be mistaken for Tape seagrasses! And the Needle seagrasses (Halodule sp.) here can be broad and tape-like. Ah, those sneaky seagrasses make monitoring at Semakau a challenge.
The Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) are blooming! The little white specks are the male flowers, while the female flowers are huge (relative to the male flowers) and have three ribbed petals that fall off after a day.This female flower seems to have just opened, and I noticed these structures in the middle of the flower that I didn't see before. Hmmm? What are these? So much more to learn about our seagrasses!Here's a closer look.

Here's the Team before we headed through the mossie-infested forest. We stay quite far from the forested area to put on our field gear.And sort out the equipment and get a quick briefing from Siti.
Some of us get a quick lie down :-)
Today Marcus is busy working on documenting TeamSeagrass for the Semakau Book project.We finally get a group photo of the Team IN seagrass! We take the time to head for the 'path of death' in the middle of the seagrass meadows used for the intertidal walks, and line up for a group photo. We usually take the group photo out of the seagrass as we don't like to trample our precious meadows.During the monitoring, Marcus gets some shots of the Team in action. Here is Joe our Seagrass Poster Boy!After the monitoring, we have a quick look at this gorgeous shore which also has kilometres of reefs! The tide wasn't very low and turned quickly. But we all managed to see lots of amazing marine life.A trip to Pulau Semakau is also an opportunity to get the seedlings (properly called propagules) of the rare Rhizophora stylosa for a replanting effort by NParks. Today, we got quite a lot of good seedlings! Soon, these will be new trees growing on our other shores!
We were so fortunate to be joined by Prof Leo Tan on our trip. Prof has played a lead and key role in many marine and environmental issues for decades. So it was a great opportunity for the young ones to meet him. As always, he so generously shared of his experiences and had many encouraging words for us. I hope he was also encouraged to meet the Labrador Angels, the young ladies who have been monitoring the seagrasses at Labrador and thus continue the legendary work he started there.

Thanks to every one who came for the trips, especially those who answered the last-minute call for extra hands: Andy, Gloria, Joe, Marcus, Charmaine, Sam, Hannah, Kevin, Adeline, Timothy, Nor Aishah, Jocelyne, Kenerf, Justin, Si Hui, Ivan, Jinwen, Alvin, Jerald. And from Nparks, Yangchen, Siti and Shufen. Thanks especially to the site team leads: Andy and Hannah, Jerald and Ivan, Kevin and Nor Aishah.

More blog posts about this trip

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