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!