Jun 10, 2012

Pulau Semakau (10 Jun 2012)

It's a bright blue sky day and a small team is out to monitor seagrasses at Pulau Semakau!
It was good to see nice long Tape seagrasses in the meadows, and everyone had great sightings after the work was done.

As usual, we begin the trip with a safety briefing on the ferry. "Can you find the Stonefish?" in the seashore pamphlet highlights how difficult it is to see some of the dangerous animals on our shores. But with proper care and attention, we can have a safe and enjoyable trip!
The regulars on the Team know to cover up completely for the trek through the mosquito-infested forest to the shore! Today, the mossies weren't too bad, though most of us came out with a cloud of them around us.
Siti gives a thorough briefing on the methods and seagrass identification before we begin. Semakau is a little more complicated than Chek Jawa because it has more seagrass species. Some of which look very similar!
The team has a closer look at some examples to get familiar with these tricky seagrasses. On Pulau Semakau we have Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides), Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii), Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata), Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium), Spoon seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) and Needle seagrasses (Halodule sp.).
Thanks to Jose and Bryan who not only carried the heavy angle irons but also pounded them in. We needed to replace some of the stakes as they were getting corroded and too low to spot at highish tides. This does show that the sediments on the shore are rising over the five years that TeamSeagrass has been monitoring this shore.
I did Site 1 today, and as usual, there is a good growth of Codium green seaweed (Codium sp.) among the seagrasses. But it's good to see that much of the Tape seagrasses here are nice and long! Many of those I measure were 40-50cm long! Unlike at Cyrene in March, where the Tape seagrasses are cropped short.
Towards the end of our transect at the edge of the meadows, there was virtually no seagrasses, and all the Tape seagrasses were cropped short.
In fact, along the edges of the seagrass meadows, much of the Tape seagrasses were cropped and burnt.
But the Tape seagrasses in the middle of the meadows are nice and long.
Seagrasses are important nurseries where young animals can find shelter and food. Like this school of young Lined eeltail catfishes (Plotosus lineatus). These fishes swim in a tight 'ball' and when threatened will face outwards, toxic spines sticking out.
After monitoring, the team also had a quick look around and saw lots of amazing marine life such as seahorses, corals, giant sea stars and more.

On this trip we had with us: Richard, Jerome, Jia Ling, Yifeng, Jose, Sean, Marcus, Chu Luo, Cindy, Chiu Ling, Johnson, Siow Yong, Meilin, Cheryl, Josephine, Samuel, Bryan. Siti was also with us with a small team to do some work on Sickle seagrasses.

Many thanks to Rachel of NParks for arranging for the boat and the van rides to the site. Many thanks also to NEA for hosting us and as usual, providing much appreciated transport to and from the start site!

Today, there was a big team out on Pulau Semakau with Zeb Hogan, led by the Nature Society (Singapore) team for their nature documentary contest event. Marcus had a nice long chat with Zeb too. In the news, Zeb says "I was surprised when I came to Semakau because it's a landfill - Semakau Landfill. I didn't know what to expect and being out here, there's so much life out here. That was the most surprising thing. The biodiversity here, in the inter-tidal zone in Semakau, is equally rich to what I've seen in other areas in other inter-tidal zones. So, that was surprising, seeing so many different kinds of sponges, crabs, different species of shrimps, many different species of fish, very rich life."

Today, news is out that the big lagoon in the landfill will be partitioned and used for depositing the ash from our incinerators. The landfill is fast filling up! Although it is expected to meet Singapore's needs until 2024, if we want to avoid expanding the landfill further after that, which would destroy the seagrasses and other marine life on Pulau Semakau, we need to intensify efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle! 

Posts by others on this trip
  • Ria with sea anemone and mangrove trees 
  • Jose on facebook with video clip of eeltail catfishes and photos of nudi.
  • Johnson on facebook with knobbly sea stars! 
  • Jerome on facebook with 'Nemo', corals and more.

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