06 February 2010

Life between the tides: another great Leafmonkey Workshop!

Last night, we had a splashing session with a wide range of nature lovers to share about our shores!
Entitled "Life between the tides", this is part of the Leafmonkey Workshops organised by November.

It was great catching up before the session started. Here is Mei Lin intrigued by the giant red-and-black spider that Sean brought along. There's a matching smaller spider on his jacket. Cool!
Everyone patiently listened to my very hurried talk about the intertidal zone. The tides are tricky things to get a grip on and neap tides are different from spring tides. Here's more about our tides.
We talked about the various different kind of ecosystems that can be found on our shores: rocky shores, sandy shores, seagrass meadows, coral rubble and coral reefs. In particular, focusing on how we can set up 'Station Zero' to help visitors realise that every inch of the shore is alive and why we should watch our step and try to stick to a designated path to avoid a wide 'zone of death'.

We also discussed the various dangers on our shores. Among which, are Stonefish, particularly since Ivan was a victim of The Fish recently. Here's some of the Stonefishes we have seen on our trips.
Fortunately, Ivan is fully recovered and was with us at the session. Here, he gives a detailed account of his unpleasant experience.
Others also shared their unpleasant encounters with jellyfish and other dangerous creatures. And Ivan reminded that bad weather is also something to watch out for. We also discussed how to ensure a safe shore trip. Here's more about safety on our shores, including a quiz you can do to test whether you will survive a trip to our seashores. So far, about 100 people have done the quiz and the average score is 65%...oh dear, not a very good score.

We went through some of the heartbreaking issues impacting our shores. And also talked about some of the spectacular but little known marine life that we have. Such as coral mass spawning! Good thing Abby was at the session to share a personal account of what it's like to be in the middle of spawning coral: like 'reverse snowing' she said. Awesome!
Abby and Zee also shared about the dead dugong that was found at Tekong in 2006. They were in the team that went down to process it. Zee said there was 30kg of Spoon seagrass in the stomach of the dugong. This shows that dugongs need a lot of seagrass and that we need to conserve our meadows! We had also seen dugong feeding trails on Chek Jawa in 2007! Here's more about dugongs.
Throughout the session, various people shared their experiences and asked interesting questions too! There's lots more information for nature guides on wildsingapore, which I just didn't have time to cover.

Then it was time to do the workshop part! To work out the timing and date for a shore walk, a safety briefing and a good Station Zero for various ecosystems. Of course, this is tailored to a particular group of 'difficult' visitors. The team spent a long time seriously discussing the issues!
The highlight of the workshop is when the teams roleplay the situations. Here's Andy trying to be a difficult visitor by insisting that he hold hands. To which Mei Lin replied that he was free to hold Sean's hand. Haha.
And another team did a great roleplay of urbanite behaviour on the shore. Ignoring the guide and up to juvenile pranks on the shores. So typical!
There were jokes aplenty, as well as good suggestions and ideas. We had lots of fun and learnt much from one another! Thanks to all the regulars and experienced guides for sharing and it was wonderful to see many new faces too. Abby also introduced her team of young people who are keen on developing guided walks on the shores. So it was very exciting!

The Workshops are run on donations. November has done a brand new Golden Piggy Bank envelope, in the hopes of getting more donations to cover the increasingly wide deficit in the Workshop funds.

The next workshop in March will be on butterflies of Singapore conducted by Khew of Butterfly Circle. Check out their awesome Butterflies of Singapore blog!

Visit the Leafmonkey Workshop blog or facebook page for the details.

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