Mar 27, 2010

TeamSeagrass Indoor Orientation (Mar 2010)

It's that time of the year to do the annual Orientation once again! And this time, TeamSeagrass is Three!
As the Anniversary badges tell us.

How nice that some of the volunteers came early to help set up the room! Thanks guys!
And here's our youngest Team participant, Ethan, with dad Kevin and mummy Shufen. Being introduced already to all our field gear.
I start off with a quick introduction to our shores, and some background into how TeamSeagrass started. It all began with Joseph Lai's first ever survey of Chek Jawa in 2001, followed by annual surveys: at Chek Jawa in 2004, mangrove survey at Pulau Semakau in 2005, then our first seagrass survey at Sentosa 2006, which led to seagrass monitoring with international Seagrass Watch since 2007!
Then Siti shared with us lots of Seagrassy Stuff, including how seagrasses are a part of a continuum of various marine ecosystems: from mangroves to reefs.
Oops, an illustration is lost in the Mac to PC translation of Siti's presentation. But this doesn't stop Siti from showing us nutrient transport in the various marine ecosystems with theatrical animation.
We then learn why it is important to monitor seagrasses, with details on why it takes a few years before we can get a good baseline. It is only after this that we can properly understand changes in a seagrass meadow.
We also have a good indepth session on how to tell apart those pesky seagrass species. This year, I've done up simple diagrams with simple notes on key differences, which we can use in the field to help figure out the tricky ones. Team members can also refresh their memories by looking at the seagrass fact sheets on wildsingapore.
Siti also goes through the monitoring methods, and here's the other side of the field seagrass ID sheet, with reminders on what we should do and take note of during monitoring. The full details of the process is on the Seagrass Watch website (pdf). Our sheet also has some photos of common seaweeds that are sometimes confused with seagrasses. Here's more about how to tell apart seagrasses and seaweeds.
We also try out using a compass. Everyone gets it quite easily.
We have a little session learning how out to fill out the datasheet properly, and a short review with a 'bad' datasheet. It's not so easy to do it properly especially if there are many seagrass species, which some of our sites are quite blessed with.

Then Shufen tells us how to use a GPS.
It seems challenging, but fun!
Then everyone tries it out. First, we have to get those satellites.
Then we have fun walking around a bit to find waypoints and mark unsuspecting trees and benches.
Meanwhile, some of us are quietly having playing with Ethan. He responds best to funny faces.
Aunty Wei Ling shows us how to do it.
And here is Aunty Siti attempting to look after Ethan while mummy is doing work.
Ooo, look, Ethan has a name tag too!
But Ethan is happiest with mummy, who carries on the GPS exercise once everyone is back from their little walk.
Mum and Dad are very much a part of TeamSeagrass, even spending their honeymoon at Cyrene Reef monitoring with the Team! So it's great to see Ethan at the Orientation.

Just before we end, we review safety on the shores. We often forget that shore safety includes safety OF the shores. We really don't want to trample and kill the very shores we are trying to protect. So there's some insights and tips on how to keep our footprints light on the shores.
But of course, safety of the Team is also important. So we go through some potentially dangerous marine life, of which there are quite a lot for those who don't know what they're doing. It's hard to tell the dangerous animals apart from less harmful ones. So it's best not to touch anything, walk carefully and to cover all skin.
Here's more about safety on the shores. You can also try this quiz and see if you will survive a trip to the shores!

Before we leave, Siti shares her awesome photos of the incredibly beautiful seagrass meadows at Bintan!
Wow, look at the clear waters and all those amazing critters among the seagrasses!
I had lots of fun at the session and am looking forward to the field session tomorrow!

Thanks to Wei Ling for preparing the room, the gear, the snacks and making sure everything went smoothly. And Siti and Shufen for their presentations.

And glad to see lots of new faces as well as some long-lost old ones: Alvin Lee, Ding Kian Seng, Gan Bin Di, Gan Bin Qi, Gao Xiao, Grace Gan, Melissa Heng, Jocelyne Sze, Lee Yen-ling, Ling Chai Joo, Muhd Isa bin Mohd Sarif, Nadine Clark, Natalie Hosnay, Nur Azlyna Binte Mohamed Tahir, Ong Joo Yong, Ong May Lwin, Sean Yap, Shen Yunfeng, Ashok Kumar, Ivan Tan.

And of course Ethan and dad Kevin for being there.

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