Jul 2, 2014

Festival of Biodiversity, 12 and 13 July 2014

If you're looking for something different to do on a weekend, why not visit the Festival of Biodiversity?

TeamSeaGrass will be participating together with other local blue groups. We'll be at the marine section so do pop by to say hi!

We're also looking for volunteers from among TeamSeaGrass members to engage with the public at the marine section. This section will showcase Singapore's marine biodiversity as well as highlight local marine research and the initiatives of local blue groups. Please sign up here or email Nor Aishah for more information.

See you at the Festival!

Jun 16, 2014

Cyrene Reef (15 June 2014)

Greetings readers! TeamSeagrass is back with another successfully completed monitoring survey on Cyrene Reefs! We had a short scare when it started to drizzle on our way to the marina, but thankfully stopped after 20 minutes. We had 9 volunteers (including myself!) for this trip. Monitoring trips to Cyrene require our volunteers to have at least participated in 1 Chek Jawa monitoring and 3 P. Semakau monitoring due to the complexity of the meadows. Therefore, we had a couple of newly-minted volunteers on this trip - Cheryl, Bryan and Pearlynn! Good to see volunteers slowly upgrading their experience with us! :)

The day started out with thick and fluffy clouds and a beautiful sunrise before it was covered by the clouds again... Interestingly, this wasn't how it first looked like when we had arrived...
Sunrise at Cyrene.

We departed really early yesterday morning (5.30am!?) as Alex needed to be back at the marina for a second batch of customers. This meant that we did our very first amphibious landing IN THE DARK! I have to say I was quite worried (although the volunteers were eager to get onto the reefs), but all things turned out well. With my handy torch, I guided them to the sand bar where we gathered and arranged our usual equipment.
Volunteers and coordinators chatting (top). Photo from Johnson Ong; amphibious landing in total darkness! (bottom). Photo from Pearlynn Sim.

Yep... This is how it looked like when we first landed. Fortunately everyone was ever-ready to head out for monitoring! Being kiasu, I suggested to Rachel and Samantha that we should take the volunteers to their Site 2. :P
Johnson shining the light for Boon Seng... Photo from Johnson Ong.

Finally first light at 6.50am! Time to start monitoring!
Sam and I talking about seagrass (I think..?). Photo from Rachel Lim.

We were blessed with a cool and breezy weather with almost no sun! It makes monitoring alot easier, minus the glare and sweat.
Sam at Site 1, T3 (top); Cheryl at Site 2 (bottom). Photo from Johnson Ong.

This trip is much shorter than our usual trips but that didn't stop us from having a look around!
Left: Ribbon worm; Right top: Common seastar (Photo from Johnson Ong); Right bottom: Cake seastar?

We noticed an interesting phenomenon - mass mortality of this shrimp (below)! We tried to save some of them by putting them back into the water but usually they are already dead. Some volunteers were wondering if it could be due to drying out on the sand bar - possible but I was doubtful as these animals tend to survive well under tidal conditions. So what happened here?
Penaeid shrimps? Mass mortality?

Another phenomenon that has been reported since the start of June is bleaching of corals and other zooxanthellate animals... So far, bleaching has been minimal with most corals having a small patch of bleached out. We are expecting higher water temperatures in July and that could have severe repercussions to our coral reefs. :( I think I also found a patch of zoanthids looking pale... Oh no!
Bleaching of soft corals (left) and hard corals (right). Photos from Rachel Lim.

More bleaching records... Zoanthids bleaching? (right bottom)

Before the tides turn, we had our (formal) group photo! Everyone was very sporty! haha...
Our iconic orange life jackets! :)

Volunteers disembarking for the boat. Having selfie time!

A great day out! A BIG thank you to our dedicated volunteers: Johnson, Boon Seng, Bryan, Pearlynn, Cheryl, and Juin Bin, and thank you Rachel and Samantha for making arrangements for the fieldtrip and looking out for everyone! :)

A picture with our iconic Knobbly seastars! :D

We still have another two more monitoring trips for 2014! Do sign up with us at our database!

TeamSeagrass is also now on Twitter and Instagram. Check us out @TeamSeagrass!

ALSO, TeamSeagrass will have a panel at this year's Festival of Biodiversity! Do drop by and say hi! We have something special installed for our volunteers so stay tune to our blog!

May 30, 2014

Chek Jawa (18 May 2014)

It was another lovely day out at Chek Jawa with a team comprising many newbies and some oldies (but goodies).

We assemble at the Changi Point Jetty in the wee hours of the morning to catch the bumboat to Pulau Ubin.

One bumboat and van ride later...

Everyone's awake! Shocker.
The van taking us into the unknown...

Apr 23, 2014

Cyrene Reef (19 April, 2014)

Our first Cyrene Reef trip started off early today at Marina @ Keppel Bay. It also marked the start of the morning low-tides, so the Team had to get adjusted to the early hours again. Despite having to wake up at 5am on a weekend, everyone turned up on time and we left promptly at 6am. 

Siti showing a surprising amount of energy for an early morning trip, while Johannes clearly has other priorities. Photo courtesy of  Rachel.

Mar 3, 2014

Chek Jawa (1 March 2014)

Second monitoring trip for 2014 and TeamSeagrass heads to Chek Jawa. It's looking to be another HOT day as the Team boarded the boat to Pulau Ubin.

We had a large group of newbies and some old-bees who had forgotten how to monitor; so we decided today will be a teaching session, where we take it slow and emphasize the finer points of monitoring. After we sorted the old-bees, newbies and stalwarts into groups (this always takes waaay too much time, maybe we need a TeamSeagrass sorting hat?), I did the briefing and we headed out to shore to do the seagrass ID session.

Siti giving the briefing.

Mar 1, 2014

Pulau Semakau (28 February 2014)

2014 marks TeamSeagrass's 8th year in monitoring! Woo hoo! Our very first monitoring trip brings us to Pulau Semakau. It is also unfortunately our last trip to Pulau Semakau for the next year or so, as NEA is starting works on the construction of Phase 2's cells to accommodate future waste disposal.

Nevertheless, we managed to gather a team of 20 volunteers - firstly a BIG THANK YOU for coming to join us, especially since it is a weekday. With the recent hot dry spells, we urged our volunteers to protect themselves and hydrate! We also conducted our usual briefing in the NEA building prior to departure onto the seashore...
Captain Siti briefing everyone

Feb 4, 2014

Of mud and seed banks: Adventures with Seagrass-Watch, 2nd - 3rd Feb 2014.

So this is a totally belated post btw, I was supposed to do it, but all the thesis writing made it very difficult to face a computer and type stuff, so I put it off for as long as I could until it just got ridiculous, so here goes.

Len and Rudi from Seagass-Watch HQ visited us over the CNY weekend and OF COURSE we had to go seagrass adventuring. The aim of the trip was to collect some samples for nutrient analyses, genetic studies and to do a preliminary seed bank study.

Fortunately, the tides are evening tides, which means that we could sleep in after the CNY feasting and festivities before heading out to Chek Jawa on Sunday, 2nd Feb. Once we were there, Sam, Nor Aishah and I set out collecting samples for genetic analyses. There were some curious members of the public out and about and we had to tell them what we were doing. Good thing we have that research permit!

After that, Rudi showed us how to do seed bank sampling. It's a relatively simple method, using very simple tools, namely a PVC pipe and a kitchen sieve. The idea is to get about 10cm of sediment in the corer and sieve out the sediments and look for seeds. Here's Sam showing us how it's done:
Using the Corer (PVC pipe with cap) to sample ~10cm o sediment.