Jan 8, 2012

Chek Jawa (8 Jan 2012)

It's our first monitoring trip for 2012! And what a wet start we had!
Despite the rainy weather, this team of enthusiastic volunteers soldiered on and got it done!

When we arrive at Chek Jawa, we are greeted by Mama pig and one of her babies. They are both covered in mud!

So glad Siti is with us today to give a proper briefing to everyone about the monitoring process. We have a lot of first timers today so it's important to explain things properly. And Siti does it much better than I do.
Then we're off to the shore! The tide is still a little high. There are not many very low tides in 2012 that fall on a weekend, and during the day, so we are attempting to monitor at less than ideal tides. Nevertheless, this doesn't deter the determined team!
After helping everyone with tricky seagrass ID, Siti gives a wet dry run of how to estimate coverage.
Then we're off to the various sites. Oh dear, the clouds have gathered again overhead as we get started at Site 1.
Despite the rain, we get started and keep going. We do keep an ear and eye out for lightning. Lightning is very dangerous so we will stop work if any is detected.
The rain falls even more heavily as we are nearing the end of our monitoring. And fortunately, it eased off soon after. Today, we also replaced all the stakes, which have been there since we first started monitoring five years ago! Thanks to Rachel for sourcing the stakes and rubber mallets to get this done!
Today, the volunteers also help Siti with her seagrass experiment on Chek Jawa. Many hands and strong backs make lighter work of replacing the netting. Her experiment studies the impact of shading on seagrasses.
How are the seagrasses doing at Chek Jawa? Very well it seems! Here's a glimpse of the wide variety of seagrass species that can be found on Chek Jawa.
I am particularly impressed by the extensive growths of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata). As far as I've seen, this is the largest patch of this kind of seagrass in Singapore. Smaller patches have so far only been seen at Cyrene Reef and at Tanah Merah.
Seagrasses commonly seen at Chek Jawa include Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.), Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa) and I was glad to see some small patches of the rare Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii). There's an article about Singapore and this rare seagrass in the latest issue of Seagrass Watch.
There's also a bloom of Sea lettuce seaweed (Ulva sp.) which is normal for this time of the year. These get entangled on the seagrasses and make it more challenging to monitor. Especially with rain and a less than ideal tide. So, bravo to the team for getting the job done!
After the monitoring, I had a quick look around and found many signs of what seems to be dugong feeding trails! Hurray!
We all saw a wide variety of the usual animals that live in these lush seagrass meadows! More about what I saw on the wild shores of singapore blog.
All too soon the tide started turning, and Richard pointed out that it was threatening to really rain! So we quickly made our way back to safety.

It was great to have so many enthusiastic people with us on this trip: Richard, Jerome, Kah Ming, Gladys, Philip, Catherine, Lucas, Kimberley, Yifeng, Nor Aishah, Edna, Eta, Siti Zaleha Zainal, Ratna, Pek Gnee and Jeremy. Also to Andy, and to Ben and Samantha.

Thanks also to Siti for briefing us and guiding the team at Site 2, Rachel for organising all the logistics and supplies, Wei Ling for taking care of surprises and to special thanks to the regulars and veterans who guided the new ones, took care of the equipment and all the many small details for our smooth trip despite the awful weather.

Others who posted about this trip
Jerome shared more photos including a lovely nudibranch!

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