Feb 19, 2012

Pulau Semakau (19 Feb 2012)

A surprise even before we left the Pier! An entourage of specially dressed up folks gathered to perform right in front of us as we were waiting for the ferry.
An exciting start to a fruitful and enjoyable monitoring session at Pulau Semakau!

It was an intriguing mix of Malay and Chinese personalities. After a little bit of asking around, we found out that this has something to do with Kusu Island. Not surprising as this little island has both a Chinese temple and a Malay keramat or shrine. How marvellous! A uniquely Singapore event!
The performers were accompanied by very loud music which sounded very special to me; a combination of Malay and Chinese sounds!
After an unusually speedy ferry ride, and a lovely bus ride to our start point, we plunged right into the forest trail, braving the Commando Mosquitoes that patrol the area.
How nice to see a bouquet of mushrooms growing on a log fallen across the path!
We emerged unscathed on the shore and with the help of some regulars, we got seagrass samples and all the gear got quickly sorted out.
We are lucky to have Siti explain the intricacies of monitoring, and highlight the seagrass species we might find on Semakau. They can be rather tricky!
Then we all headed out to the various sites. Once again, I'm off to the furthest site! The water is still high and I had a lot of trouble finding the stakes. Oh dear, we lost two of them. Fortunately, there was still one and we used it to set up the other two. Thanks to the presence of many regulars who guided the new ones, we got the monitoring done smoothly.
The Tape seagrasses (Enhalus acoroides) are blooming today! The water was dotted with the tiny white male flowers that float.
Here's a closer look at a bunch of tiny male flowers. These emerge from a cup-like structure close to the base of the plant.
The female flowers are much larger, and held on long stalks and have petals that open up at the water surface at low tide.
At the water surface, the male flowers meet the female flowers! And pollination magic happens!
I had a closer look at the Tape seagrass leaf. It has a smooth rounded tip. And this one had a bunch of little eggs stuck on it.
Sadly, from what the rest of the team saw today, it seems that the seagrasses on Semakau were much less abundant on this trip than previously. Also, some of the readings suggest that the Tape seagrass is also cropped short in some parts of Semakau.

[Update: Jeffrey Low shared a comment on this post, and photos of cropped Tape seagrasses north of our survey sites.]

We encountered a similar situation on Cyrene Reef, as well as at Terumbu Semakau. Oh dear. Well, this is why it is important to monitor our seagrasses!

After the monitoring we had a quick look around at the shore. Near Site 1, The Magnificent anemone (Heteractis magnifica) that I saw on my previous monitoring trip is still there. It seems to be doing well. Later I found out the team saw several more. That's nice to know!

On this trip we had with us: Richard, Jerome, Gladys, Nor Aishah, Joo Yong, Jocyelyne, Sean, Kok Sheng, Mei Lin, Andy, Regina, Yifeng, Eta, Jacyln, Sankar, Philip, Catherine, Lucas, Ruici, Zestin, Alissa, Jeremy, Jose. It was nice to have Dawn, Siti's student, with us too. The Team also helped Siti and Dawn with their project. Andy pounded in new stakes for Sites 1 and 2 and the regulars helped guide the new ones and with the many details for a smooth and fruitful trip. Thank you!

Thanks to Siti and Wei Ling for looking after two sites! And many thanks also to Rachel of NParks for taking care of the myriad annoying logistical details even though she couldn't join us. Many thanks also to NEA for hosting us and as usual, providing much appreciated transport to and from the start site!

Others who posted about this trip
  • Ria with special plants found on Pulau Semakau
  • Jerome with anemone shrimp, carpet eel blenny and sights of our Southern Islands on the ferry ride. 
  • Mei Lin with a closer look at where the male Tape seagrass flowers come from, and more interesting animals. 
  • Jose with corals, a Magnificent anemone, nudibranch and more! 
  • Jocelyne shares about her 6 years monitoring seagrasses! And more.

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

Hi hi,

Just to let you know that I was north of your survey sites in Dec 2011 and these are photos I took of the tape seagrass.