Nov 14, 2012

Pulau Semakau (13 Nov 2012)

The Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) are blooming today! With sprinkles of tiny male flowers floating on the water, often mistaken for styrofoam bits.
A small team had a great cool day monitoring the seagrass meadows of Pulau Semakau!

The female Tape seagrass flowers are much bigger with three white long petals!
Before we left the mainland we begin the safety briefing with: "Can you find the stonefish in the guidesheet?". It takes a while to find it even though the fish is labelled! There are too many other distracting animals. We discuss how to avoid stepping on a stonefish, and how to avoid other injuries. Watch your step and don't touch! Here's more about how to stay safe on a seashore with an online safety quiz.
Rachel of NParks' National Biodiversity Centre manages the massive logistics of getting the ferry and bus lined up for our safe and comfortable travel. Thank you Rachel!
It's raining when we arrive at the Landfill, but we press on and head out for the shelter near the shore for another briefing on how to fill up the datasheet. Meanwhile, a few of us check out the lighting situation.
Nor Aishah is a great teacher! She patiently explains the simple steps for completing the datasheet.
After negotiating the forest trail - new and improved! - we head out for the shore under cool dry skies. In the distance, emissions from the massive petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom just off the seagrass meadows and mangroves on Pulau Semakau.
We stop for a quick run through on seagrass ID, once again led by Nor Aishah. Those seagrasses can be tricky! 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.).
We also do a short demonstration of a transect.
Then we're off to monitor the three sites on Pulau Semakau, spread out over about 2 kilometres!
It's a long long walk to Site 1 which I and a few other volunteers are doing.
How nice to see long Tape seagrasses on my line. Unlike at Cyrene in August, where they were mostly 'chomped' short. As usual, there is a good growth of Codium green seaweed (Codium sp.) among the seagrasses.
Alas, there are also large patches of bare sand, often with only a few clumps of 'chomped' Tape seagrasses only about 4-5cm long. TeamSeagrass monitoring over the last five years will hopefully tell us more about what is going on with our seagrass meadows.
Here's Nor Aishah and her team were working on their transect.
After the monitoring, the rest of the team had a brief look around the shore. We came across all kinds of interesting animals from small Common sea stars to octopuses, big Noble volute mama laying eggs, various nudibranchs, corals and more! Hazwani and I had a look at some Critically Endangered plants found on Pulau Semakau and also removed an abandoned fish net and fish trap and released a giant Mud crab.
Here's some of the creatures Sean Yap saw and shared on facebook
Photos by Sean Yap on facebook.
The forest trail is usually infested with fierce mosquitoes. The regulars are well prepared to avoid being bitten. Here's a photo of me (in orange) and Sean Yap in our anti-mosquito get up. Thanks to Johnson Ong for taking our photo!
Photo by Johnson Ong on facebook.
But this trip was mostly mosquito free. We had a safe and productive monitoring session and the earlier wet weather made for a nice cool day.

Glad to have joining this trip: Hazwani, Yuan Chun, Samuel, Sunis, Lee Seng, May, Grace, Wan Zhen, Adrian, Erine, Boon Seng, Xiaohong. Thanks to the regulars who lead the transects and helped guide the new comers: Johnson, Sean, Chay Hoon, Jonathan, Jia Ling, Kok Sheng. Special thanks to Nor Aishah for briefing us on the seagrass protocols and seagrass ID.

Many thanks to Rachel of NParks for arranging the ferry and the bus 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!

Posts by others on this trip
  • Sean Yap on facebook with interesting marine life seen after the monitoring. 
  • Johnson Ong on facebook with more about the Team and what we saw. 
  • Ria Tan with special seashore plants and rescue of a huge crab from an abandoned driftnet.

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