Apr 30, 2009

1-3 May: Formal Seagrass-Watch training and certification for TeamSeagrass

ALL SESSIONS AND CLASSES ARE FULL. Registration is closed.

But you can still apply to join TeamSeagrass and join us for our other upcoming trips in June onwards.

Len McKenzie and Rudi Yoshida of Seagrass-Watch will be in Singapore to conduct formal training for TeamSeagrass which leads to Certification.

Seagrass-Watch is a global scientific, non-destructive, seagrass assessment and monitoring program. First begun in 1998, monitoring under Seagrass-Watch now takes place at 259 sites across 17 countries. And Singapore and TeamSeagrass is part of this effort!

We are very excited to be able to learn from the Seagrass Masters, both in the classroom and in the field.

If you have been thinking of joining TeamSeagrass, this the best time to join so as to catch this opportunity for formal training and achieve certification.

How to join? Simply email these 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. Please also read the FAQs on this blog for more about the programme.

Details of the upcoming formal training

1 May (Fri)

7am-12noon: Pulau Semakau monitoring and Level 2 Field Session

3.30-9pm: Level 1 classroom session
Venue: Singapore Botanic Gardens Botany Centre

2 May (Sat)

8am-12 noon: Level 1 Field Session at Chek Jawa

3 May (Sun)

9am-3pm: Level 2 classroom session
Venue: Singapore Botanic Gardens Botany Centre

Level 1 Classroom session: some of the topics to be covered

Seagrass Biology & Identification
• What are seagrasses
• Characteristics to ID seagrass
• Seagrass species of Singapore
• How to make a herbarium press specimen

Seagrass Ecology and Threats
• Why seagrasses are important
• The variety of seagrass habitats
• Factors important for seagrass growth
• How seagrass can be damaged
• What happens if you damage seagrass

Seagrass monitoring
• What is monitoring?
• Designing monitoring programs
• Common drivers for monitoring
• Why monitor?
• Who uses monitoring information?
• Monitoring protocols

How to sample
• Sampling protocols & how they were developed
• What parameters we measure & why?

How data is used
• What are some of results?
• Who uses the information?
• What is the information used for?

Level 2 classroom session: some of the topics to be covered

Seagrass Identification refresher
• Characteristics to ID seagrass
• Seagrass species of Singapore

Protocols refresher
• Protocols
• Common types of errors

Data entry & analysis
• How to enter Seagrass-Watch data
• Preliminary analysis of data for trends

GPS training
• The simple theories of GPS
• How a GPS works and types of errors
• How to operate a handheld GPS receiver

Apr 28, 2009

Entire fish species disappearing from Malaysian waters

Sira Habibu, The Star 28 Apr 09;
GEORGETOWN: More than 80 types of fish have either become extinct or gone missing from local waters, said Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S. M. Mohd Idris.

These include various varieties of yu, pari, gelama, pelata, bagok, semilang and kurau.

Describing the situation as alarming, Mohd Idris said it was high time the authorities implemented preventive measures to safeguard the fisheries sector.

“Our fisheries sector is in crisis because of the lack of effective policies and laws on the conservation of marine resources, as well as a lack of enforcement of existing laws,” he said at the National Fisheries Dialogue here Tuesday.

Mohd Idris said the dialogue was organised by Sahabat Alam Malaysia to identify weaknesses in policies and practices, and to suggest ideas for sustainable and effective management of fisheries resources.

“The other objective is to advocate strong and sustainable fisheries policies that emphasise the interdependency of ecosystems and communities,” he said.

“The authorities must also take measures to check the destruction of marine life habitats. There must be a concerted effort to protect mangrove forests, sea grass and coral reefs,” he said.

He said that the impact of modern fishery practices must also be looked into, and added that there was no long-term policy to protect the coastal ecosystem.

“Extinction, over-exploitation and the depletion of fisheries resources must be addressed in the fourth Malaysian Fisheries Policy that is currently being formulated.

“Draft copies of the policy should be made available to the public, and a platform must be given for groups to give feedback and highlight concerns,” he added.

Apr 15, 2009

Special seagrass on Pulau Sekudu: Halophila decipiens

I saw this odd seagrass with 'pointy' leaves on Pulau Sekudu in May 07.
Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis)?
Len McKenzie, Principal Scientist and Seagrass-Watch Program Leader of Seagrass-Watch HQ has just informed that this is Halophila decipiens! (Though we still need to get a herbarium specimen for final confirmation.)

Halophila decipiens is the latest of our seagrass species to be added to the long list of seagrasses on our shores! It was first confirmed in 2008 from specimens collected off Pulau Semakau at a depth of 8m. It has since been sighted at other locations in waters off the Southern islands.

Len remarked that "the abundance of Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa) at Chek Jawa would suggest a habitat also suitable from Halophila decipiens."

He adds that finding Halophila decipiens at the edge of the shallows is uncommon. He shares that he has only seen this situation a couple of times before, on the east Coast of Queensland. Both environments he observed were very turbid waters and it was exposing on a very low tide.

This means that TeamSeagrass will have to look more closely at those Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) when we monitor!

Apr 1, 2009

Sentosa on April Fool's Day

Dawn breaks beautifully over Sentosa's last natural reefs, which are still rich with seagrasses and other marine life despite the large numbers of ships and industrial installations nearby.
Siti, Wei Ling, Collin and I are on the shore to do the usual monitoring for there.

Things didn't go quite as usual, hmm ... perhaps because it was April Fool's Day?

First, no one else had signed up for the trip. I kept expecting some of the Team to suddenly turn up and yell "April Fools!"

Then, the tide seemed non-compliant again. We waited and waited and it didn't seem to go down much. We did, however, have a nice time catching up while we waited. We had a kind of breakfast picnic on the soft clean sandy beach there. The day turned into a glorious sunny one, but cool for us as the huge natural cliffs shaded the shore.
The shores were also thick with Hairy green seaweed (Bryopsis sp.). It formed a thick soup at the edges of the water. But fortunately, it was relatively clear of these seaweeds in deeper water.

And alas, the water remained deep and rather murky as waves splashed in with the boats zooming by.We went ahead to try to monitor anyway.After a while, the water cleared up, even though it remained deep.

For the first time, I did monitoring on my own. Which is alright, except there's no one to compare and talk with about the numbers. And it's tough trying to measure long tape seagrasses alone while trying to write down the numbers.

So we really did miss you guys on this trip, Team!

Sentosa is easy to monitor because it has just two species of seagrasses which are VERY different.The humungously long Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) and the tiny oval-shaped Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis).
I noticed for the first time on Sentosa, some growths of the green seaweed Caulerpa mexicana. This seaweed is quite common on our Northern shores and can sometimes carpet vast areas there. But I have not seen it often or in large numbers on our Southern shores. Hmmm ... there's still so much more to learn about our shores.

I've always admired the underwater photos by Seagrass-Watch. Today, I made the little camera go for a swim. After many blurry shots, I finally figured out the settings, sort of, and here's what our lovely seagrasses look like when they are happily submerged!Spoon seagrasses in sand.
Spoon seagrasses among bigger gravelly bits.
And wonderful thickets of Tape seagrases!
In swirly bunches in the waves.
With seaweeds among the grasses.
I kind of went crazy once I figured out how to take the photos.And I even captured (accidentally) a photo of some Cardinalfishes swimming among the seagrasses! Wow!

I had to stop taking photos when the poor little camera's battery went flat.

But the fun didn't stop there. Siti, Wei Ling and I went to have a look at the special mangrove trees on Sentosa. This and more on the wild shores of singapore blog.