May 13, 2012

Chek Jawa (13 May 2012)

Despite the wet start, a large team of enthusiastic volunteers gather to monitor seagrasses at Chek Jawa!
Today is a special trip because Len and Rudi of international SeagrassWatch are with us! We also saw more signs of dugongs!

We are greeted by the sight of tame Mama wild boar and her offspring. Two older pigs and many little piglets which still have their 'watermelon' stripes.
The baby piglets are so cute!
We tear ourselves away from the distraction to begin our work. First, Siti starts with a briefing on how to fill up the monitoring sheet. Today, Len and Rudi check on how we are doing, so we are a little nervous!
Then we get down to the shore where Siti does a quick refresher on how to identify the different kinds of seagrasses that can be found on Chek Jawa. There are Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis), Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.), Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) and Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa). She also explains more about those tricky seaweeds that often confuse us.
Siti also does a quick run through on how to estimate seagrass coverage and figure out seagrass species composition. It's quite easy once you get the hang of it.
Len follows up after the briefings to assure that the methods are meant to be done quickly and that we shouldn't be too stressed about making the estimates.
Then we're off to monitor! The team at Site 1 set up very quickly. This site is closer to the boardwalk and is full of seagrasses. Except for the tips of transect 2 and 3 where the Southern sand bar seems to have moved inward and thus there is no seagrass. This is how long term monitoring like TeamSeagrass can provide valuable information about changes taking place on a shore.
Len pointed out some dugong feeding trails near Site 1!
We then head out to Site 2 which is nearer the Northern sand bar. The sand bar has moved so much that it has 'eaten' up almost all of Transect 1 and quite a bit of Transect 2.
Len spots more dugong feeding trails near Site 2.
Siti and Rachel as well as some volunteers are hard at work on her seagrass experiment on Chek Jawa!
The volunteers help Siti to maintain her experiment and bring out old nets! Wow, hard work. Thank you!
I accompanied Len and Rudi for a more thorough survey of Chek Jawa's seagrass meadows. And I saw disconcerting signs of bleaching carpet anemones.
As well as many Smooth sea cucumbers lying above ground (these are usually well buried). What do these mean? More on the wild shores of singapore blog.
Yifeng saw a Watering Pot shell (Verpa penis) which was once thought to be extinct in Singapore! It sure is still very much alive on Chek Jawa!
Len and Rudi made a thorough survey of the seagrasses from the Northern sand bar to south of House No. 1. At the end of the monitoring session, we are quite nervous as Len checks through our datasheets. Siti is aghast!
But all seems mostly well. Len points out some ways we can improve our data collection. Thank you Len and Rudi!
As we head home, we have another look at Mama wild boar and her brood.
It was great to have so many enthusiastic people with us on this trip: Siew Yong, Meilin, Johnson, Rebecca, Fenni, Cheryl, Vince, Jonathan, Dill. Special thanks to the veterans who led the transects: Yen-Ling, Jocelyne, Jose, Jerome Pang, Yifeng. As well as to Chay Hoon, Cindy and Chuluo. Siti for briefing us so well. And the trip would not have been possible without Rachel making all the transport and other logistical arrangements. Thank you!

Of course, the highlight of the trip was having Len and Rudi observe and improve our work, and share and explain more about seagrasses, dugongs and other important issues. Their warm and constant support encourages and inspires us to keep up our monitoring efforts!

Others who posted about this trip
  • Johnson's super fast upload to facebook covered highlights of our trip
  • Jerome Pang's equally fast upload to facebook features some of the marine life seen on our trip.
  • Ria with more about bleaching carpet anemones, uprooted sea cucumbers and a survey of the rest of seagrass meadows at Chek Jawa with Len and Rudi.
  • Yifeng with the Watering Pot shell and lots more sightings! 
  • Jocelyne blogs about our trip!

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