Mar 29, 2010

TeamSeagrass Outdoor Orientation at Chek Jawa (28 Mar 10)

After our Indoor Orientation session, it was time to head outdoors and try out monitoring in the field!
Here's the very enthusiastic Team on a very hot day out at Chek Jawa!

We were all in good spirits on the way out, some of us still snarfling lunch.
It was great to have Sijie and the Scouts with us again.
After a quick briefing, we head out to the shore to finally have a closer look at the various seagrass species.
Siti highlights how to tell the species apart.
They are rather small and we have to look hard to see all the features.
Then we split up into the two Sites to do the monitoring. I join the team at Site 2 which is far far away near the Northern sand bar. As usual, we walk in a single file and stick to hard sand to minimise impact on the seagrass meadows and shores.
Oh dear, one of the transects on Site 2 goes right over bare sand! The sand bar has shifted a lot! This is why it is important to monitor and monitor over a long period to have a good understanding of the dynamics of the shore.
Thanks to all the transect ICs for showing the new members the finer aspects of monitoring.
While this was well in hand, I headed off to check out the situation on the Northern sand bar. Alas, this small patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) seems to be buried by the moving sand bar.
Fortunately, there is another patch that's a little larger. I hope it can keep up with the moving sand bar as these are so far the only two patches of this species that I've seen. We probably need to do a more thorough survey of the rest of the meadows to see what else has been changing outside our sites.
Much of the Sickle seagrass also has brown leaf tips, possibly sunburnt in the recent hot weather?
I trekked out to the Northern most point to look for the Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii) that we've seen before. Alas, I found none. Although there are pools with Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) and Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis).
Closer to the Boardwalk, the Ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) seems to be doing alright. While we saw some patches of green Beccari's seagrass.
We were also dismayed to see many bleaching carpet anemones, a sign that they are stressed. More about this on the wild shores of singapore blog and sgbeachbum blog.
The field orientation went well! Everyone did a good job. Sometimes, too good a job as it took a long time for some to finish their transects. Still, we had time to make a quick round on the mangrove boardwalk at the end of the monitoring. We gawked at fiddler crabs, thrilled at splashing mudskippers of all kinds, and enjoyed the shade of tall mangrove trees and learnt more about mud lobsters and their mounds.

What a thrill it was when Alvin spotted a spitting cobra! It slithered very rapidly among the mud lobster mounds right beneath our feet! You can read more about the Equatorial spitting cobra (Naja sumatrana) on Nick Baker's excellent fact sheets on snakes.
It had been really hot so most of us were tired. Only one person had the energy to climb up the Tower and take a photo of the group. He said we looked like the map of Singapore. Wow!
Then it was time to wash up the gear, drink copious quantities of sugary drinks from the vending machine, and snarfle up the cookies provided by Sean and Andy. And from somewhere, bananas too!
What a great day with an awesome Team! Alvin Lee, Joyce Ang, Chew Jia Hui, Ding Kian Seng, Edi, Gan Bin Di, Gan Bin Qi, Gao Xiao, Grace Gan, Melissa Heng, Hazel Huang, Ling Chai Joo, Nadine Clark, Nur Azlyna Binte Mohamed Tahir, Oliver Lim, Ong May Lwin, Shen Yunfeng.

Thanks especially to the transect ICs: Andy, Sijie, Yen-ling, Joo Yong, Sean and Jocelyne. And of course, Siti and Wei Ling for looking after all of us.

We're looking forward to seeing more of everyone in our upcoming trips!

This is the last of the evening trips for this tide cycle and the next few trips will be in the blessed cool of the morning! See you then!

Other posts about this trip

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