20 October 2008

Super high at Chek Jawa

The tide was really high at the Chek Jawa boardwalk on Sunday morning!
What happens during such times?

I was out for a morning stroll with Tsun-Thai Chai who writes the excellent Chai's Marine Life blog. A kindred spirit from Perth, Australia, Chai also visits his local shore regularly and posts his discoveries just like some of us do. So it was delightful to hear from him. He wrote about visiting our shores during his brief 8-hour stopover in Singapore on his way to Europe. What a great opportunity to share Chek Jawa with him.Chai is a delightful companion and was game for everything. After a short stop to snarffle up the last serving of special Ubin lontong (Only on Ubin! Only on Sunday! and quite endangered), we headed off to Chek Jawa. Here he is taking photos of the green green forest surrounding the Chek Jawa shores.It was a glorious blue sky day and for a change, and I actually climbed all the way up the Jejawi Tower (I usually skip this even during walks that I guide, due to cranky knees). And was rewarded by this stunning panorama of Johor, Pulau Tekong and the surrounding mangroves, forests and coastal forests of Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin. Peeping through the trees, we could even see mainland Singapore on the other side!Unfortunately, the view was marred by this message defacing of the Tower railing. Sigh.

Exploring the back mangroves, the mudskippers were quite lively. This is seldom so during a mid-day trip.The elusive Blue-spotted mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti) was busy in the shallow water, flicking up its flamboyant dorsal fin.

As we walked further on, we realised the water was rushing into the back mangroves!Like a little tsunami, waves were washing in near the sluice gate at the prawn pond, inundating the areas which are usually bone dry.

The rushing water gushed through the pools among the mudlobster mounds. And all kinds of mudskippers came out play!
Giant mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) were splashing about in the incoming water. This handsome large fish with dark racing stripes along the body is unfortunately listed among Singapore's threatened animals due to habitat loss.
This could be the Yellow-spotted mudskipper (Periophthalmus walailake) or a juvenile Giant mudskipper. There were also lots of little mudskippers flipping about above the rapidly rising water line.In the water, there were countless little fishes in schools, busily nibbling on the ground surface. Probably on the yummy algae that has been growing thickly in between these flushes of high spring tide.

The tide was whoosing in as we rounded to the front mangroves (haha, I don't think that's a valid term, but there's 'back mangroves' so there should be 'front mangroves' right?)Among the mangrove tree roots, all the little snails were huddled well above the usual height, to stay out of the especially high tide and keep safe from aquatic predators. Here's an article about the amazing ability of such snails to creep up to the correct height.
As we headed out to the Coastal loop of the boardwalk, the water was really high! Boulders that ordinarily still stick out of the water at high tide were submerged.
Even the big boulder near the entrance to the floating pontoon!
In fact, the water line was just beneath the boardwalk!

During our short walk, we also saw other stuff like the little Cotton stainer bugs feeding on the seeds of the Sea hibiscus. And as we waited for the van to take us home, we saw several wild boar in the forest!

On the way home, we stopped by at Ubin Green House, run by the Green Volunteers Network. Here's more about Green House on a separate visit there. Alas, the sisters' restaurant was closed so I couldn't show Chai all the old photos of Ubin that are displayed there.

As Chai still had a long journey ahead of him, we left Ubin before lunch and not a moment too soon as it started to pour after that.

I'm so glad to have a chance to share a little bit of wild Singapore, so that at least one more person will experience Singapore as more than just concrete and shopping centres. Yes, we have mangroves, and real primary rainforests, and even living reefs!

I think Chai said it best when he shared that he would rather go to a natural place and see nothing, than to go to a zoo or aquarium.

Thank you Chai for being such a great companion. Through your eyes, I saw our wild places with a fresh perspective and have gained new inspiration! Hope you have a safe journey. And thank you also for the wonderful calendar of Australia's magnificent marine life.


  1. Hi Ria,

    I didn't know that you wrote a post about our walk on Ubin! Thanks. And I like those photos of mudskippers very much!

  2. It was a memorable trip for me and if ever I get tired of the work we do, I shall recall your enthusiasm and be inspired anew :-)



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