12 June 2009

Exploring Pandan mangroves

As the low tide shifts into daylight, it's safe for me to indulge in my current mania for mangroves.
This morning at daybreak, I was making my first visit to the mangroves at Pandan. The ground was firm, there were NO mosquitos and golden sunlight everywhere. What more could a girl ask for?

All my favourite mangrove trees and plants were here! Including a stand of Nipah palms (Nypa fruticans) with some in bloom!
The edges of the high shores were thick with Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica) many bright with tiny star-shaped flowers as well as growing propagules. These trees are always shameless reproducing.
Further out were several large Perepat trees (Sonneratia alba) with their fallen fruits dotting the mud, as well as many smaller saplings everywhere.
In the upper reaches of the little muddy bay were several tall and profusely flowering Tumu trees (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza) which usually have bright red calyx (the plasticky, thick cap-shaped thing with pointy tips that surround the brownish petals). I have learnt not to get too excited about those with a pale calyx. The flowers are Tumu when the petals have tassels at their tips. So we can all relax now.
The excitement of course is in looking for the rarey Api-api jambu (Avicennia marina) that is found here. Alas, none of the suspiciously marina-ish trees were blooming. So I can't be sure.
There was a row of small Api-api but all looking very alba-ish. And there were certainly lots of tall big trees of the other common Api-api species (A. alba, A. officinalis, A. rumphiana). There were also some smaller Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata) and several Mangrove cannon-ball trees of various sizes (Xylocarpus granatum).

It was interesting to come across a small patch of Chengam (Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea). It was behaving more like a climber, scrambling over a tree, rather than a bush.
It was delightful to see the Common derris (Derris trifoliata) in bloom! This climber brightened up the gloomy mangrove forest with its clusters of delicate pink blossoms. These flowers turn into flat capsules.
Mud and mangroves means mudskippers, and there were lots of little ones out today. Skipping away out of camera range unfortunately. Here's one that looks like the Silver-lined mudskipper (Periophthalmus argentilineatus).
Tiny little crabs of all kinds are also speedy, hard to spot and difficult to photograph.
Less speedy were little snails such as the Black-mouth mangrove periwinkle snail (Littoraria melanostoma) which is a pretty yellow on the outside but has a black mouth. And lots of tiny little Red berry snails (Sphaerassiminea miniata).
Slow-moving (or even non-moving) but hard to spot are these snails which I've only seen in mangroves. The Black-mouth nerite snail (Neritina cornucopia).
And the startling Red-mouth nerite snail (Neritina violacea)
Then there were these two different kinds of Chut-chut snails (Cerithidea obtusa) that looked very different. Are they two different species or is the one with the thinner shell a juvenile version of the other with the thicker shell?
Everybody loves slugs, right? Well I do. And in the mangroves, we see different kinds. These might be the Grey-footed mangrove onch slug (Platyvindex sp.).
I was quite excited to see large mud lobster mounds here. And some of them had fresh flows of mud! Which add to their resemblence to a volcano! These mounds are created by the mud lobster (Thalassina sp.)
Mangrove ferns (Acrostichum aureum) and Sea holly (Acanthus sp.) grew on the mud lobster mounds. Sea holly got its name because sometimes, its leaves are scalloped with sharp tips and thus resembles the Christmas holly.
The photo on the right, however, is NOT sea holly! It looks like the leaves of the Common derris that had been chewed up by some sort of leaf cutting animal (beetle, bee?).

An indeed there were lots of more terrestrial animals in mangroves. I almost missed this perfectly camouflaged mantis.
Another busy insect was this wasp. It appeared to be chewing up the wood of a dead tree.
And carrying off bits of the pulp in its mouth. It's probably a kind of paper wasp? I have much to learn about terrestrial animals.
Thus everything in the mangrove has a role in the greater web of life. Even dead trees. And there were quite a few dead trees in the mangroves.
What doesn't belong in the mangroves, however, is trash. Today, I saw not only the kind of trash that comes in with the tide. But also trash deliberately dumped by the sides of the mangroves. Like this suitcase.
And these bags full of I have no idea what.
These mangroves at Pandan are narrow and wedged between a wide and busy road and the Pandan Reservoir.
I hope it has a chance to cling on to life despite the many pressures it faces.

As I walked back to go home, my final surprise. I saw TWO beautiful healthy Putat sungei trees (Barringtonia racemosa)! At first I saw the fallen flowers and just couldn't believe it until I looked up.
To see such a nice tree, blooming profusely. This tree is listed as 'Critically Endangered' in the wild, so it's good to know that it is being replanted!

Another first today, this blog post was done on DIAL UP!! Yes, remember that? My broadband unexpectedly failed and will only be fixed late tomorrow (I hope). And fortunately, I never did cancel the dialup subscription.

Meanwhile, expect delays. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. Dial-up? Wow. That certainly is ancient.

    That wasp chewing paper looks a lot like a greater banded hornet (Vespa tropica)!




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