01 November 2008

Mangroves at the Marina Barrage

Under a line of perky Water Wally droplets, we explored the newly opened gianormous sluice gate across the mouth of the Singapore and Kallang Rivers.
Officially launched yesterday, the Marina Barrage forms the 15th reservoir in Singapore and lies in the heart of the city. Considered "a dream 20 years in the making, the Barrage will not only increase Singapore's water supply, it will also control floods and become a key venue for activities by and on the water."

"Singapore's largest solar park, at 1,200 sq m or about a third the size of a football field, is also located here; with 405 solar panels generating 'green' power for the facility. Clean and Green Singapore was also launched yesterday at the Marina Barrage, which will promote recycling, cycling, tree planting and nature treks."

And one of the many activities at the Clean and Green carnival there was a booth by RGS who are monitoring Labrador meadows as part of TeamSeagrass.Here are the cheerful young seagrassers, with Siti and Wei Ling in the background.Siti also gave a talk about "Marine Biodiversity and you" with the help of Wei Ling. There were many other nature talks also lined up for the weekend.

NParks had a really nice wall up, where people could leave their thoughts about our wild places.It was quite heartening that many of our favourite shores were among those that were commented upon.With the outdoor classroom element of Labrador being highlighted. Bravo!Sentosa and Pasir Ris were included, and Changi with sea star and jellyfish. I couldn't find any mention of Chek Jawa or Pulau Ubin though.And then there was this cryptic entry. Hmmm....

I had a quick look around at the Marina South end of the Barrage.It's an extravaganza of fountains.With huge expanses of precision fountains. With some strange sculptures. I almost always never 'understand' large man-made sculptures.

On the water, there were lots of activities including paddle boat things and kayaking.Droves of aunties and uncles from the RCs were roaming the exhibits in herds, and many piled into the bumboats for tours of the now still waters of the Singapore River.

The huge area was teeming with booths and activities. From recycling and other competitions with cars (hybrid) as prizes, lots of stall selling stuff, huge screens displaying the programme and messages, and the constant loud noise of music and commentaries on games. It was getting rather too much of those of us who prefer the wilder side of things.The most distressing activity to me was this balloon sculpting corner where kids lined up for fancy balloon head-dresses. To have balloons given away in large numbers so near the sea is just frightening. How many will be discarded only to be washed into nearby drains and then into the sea to join the killer litter that destroys marine life?
We decided to flee the rampant consumerism and noise to have a look at the Marina Barrage. The Marina Barrage is basically a gianormous sluice gate across the Marina Channel. Here's more of how it was constructed and how it works.
Here's a map of its location. And some details of how it works.

The barrage, which comprises nine numbers of 26.8-metre-long hydraulically operated steel crest gates, will be built across the 350m wide Marina Channel to keep out sea water. Under normal conditions, the steel gates will remain closed to isolate the reservoir from the sea. During heavy rain, the steel gates will open as necessary to release excess stormwater to the sea when the tide is low. However, when it is not possible to do so during high tide, the Drainage Pumping Station capable of pumping up to 280 cubic metres per second will pump out the excess stormwater into the sea.
And here you can see the brown still waters in the 'fresh' side, with the green waters in the marine side. We wonder how long it will take for the water to turn fresh, and what will happen during the time as all the marine life inside the reservoir dies, and what the impact will be to the marine life outside the reservoir every time this water of death is flushed out? There doesn't seem to be information about this on the Marina Barrage page of the Public Utilities Board.The Barrage gives a view of the city centre with the hideous Flyer wheel. Sigh.At the Marina East end of the Barrage, there is a boat hoist to transport small boats across it.

Reaching the end of the Barrage, we couldn't resist getting off the concrete to explore the wild areas at Marina East. The seawall along Marina East is rather less neat as we walk further away from the Barrage.
There were some people fishing off what seems to be remains of a construction site there. We saw them catch Filefishes (Family Monacanthidae) and Rabbitfishes (Family Siganidae). And one fisherman I spoke to said he often catches groupers too (Family Serranidae).Further along, between the seawall and the shores of Marina East was a tiny patch of mangroves!! Wow!The Sonneratia alba was blooming with pretty star shaped pink fruit bases. There were lots of Avicennia alba and a few Rhizophora (stylosa probably). We spotted Giant mudskippers (Periophthalmus schlosseri), a little Banded archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix) and several little halfbeaks (Family Hemiramphidae). There were large crows flying about, and we could hear the twitter of little tailorbirds among the trees.Near the shores, there were little bushes of Scaevola taccada with their distinctive little white flowers, and lots of flowering Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), as well as small Sea almond trees (Terminalia catappa).The ground cover included our familiar Mimosa with the pretty pink puff flowers. And another kind of plant that looks like Mimosa but had yellow flowers. And yet another larger plant with leaves that look like Mimosa but flowers that are like a pea flower. Covering the ground are lots of Sea bean (Canavalia maritima) with pretty lilac flowers. The sea wall goes all around Marina East and from here you can see the tall apartment blocks of Marine Parade. Wow, this is so much nicer than the pandemonium of the Carnival.All too soon, time to head back for the Carnival. Isn't it amazing to have mangroves so close to the city centre?!We have a last look at the fishermen who are still hard at it.Chay Hoon notices growths of corals and other encrusting marine animals above the high water line on the sea wall. Hmmm. We have no idea how they got there.In the puddles of clay were little prints of birds.

Have just read Kok Sheng's post about his adventure to reach the Marina East shore today. What a coincidence! Well, we're happy to share that it's probably possible to get to the Marina East shore via the Marina Barrage.

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