20 January 2011

Quick trip to Chek Jawa

Today, a small team joins Siti to retrieve the monitoring instruments she set up earlier at Chek Jawa.
These instruments take readings of important environmental factors that might affect health of the seagrasses and marine life there. They have to be regularly checked.

When we arrive, the Chek Jawa intertidal walk conducted by NParks and volunteers is well underway! How nice to see people enjoying this special shore! Here is Alan from NParks conducting the tour. Alan looks after the volunteers with Ubin NParks.
For the guided walk, volunteers also find and place interesting marine life near the sand bar. So visitors can have a look at them without trampling the entire shore. Here's more about the intertidal walks at Chek Jawa.
We spent most of our short trip finding and carefully removing the instruments that have been monitoring the temperature, light and sediments on Chek Jawa. More about these instruments on the TeamSeagrass blog.
In the midst of our work, Marcus notices a very large Wild boar (Sus scrofa) that has wandered onto the seagrass meadows! There were also a lot of shorebirds busy feeding on the flats and a pair of Oriental pied-hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) were also seen.
We came across some Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) that looked a bit pale though none were in extreme bleaching.
We also saw several large Garlic bread sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra). These burrowing sea cucumbers play a part in a healthy seagrass meadow. There were a few Cake sand dollars (Arachnoides placenta) and Marcus spotted one Sand star (Astropecten sp.).
Rachel spotted this very pretty baby Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis)!
Just as I was loudly lamenting that Chek Jawa seems rather quiet and there isn't any interesting animals on the shore, this GIANT crab EXPLODES out of the ground waving its menacing pincers! Marcus, who is standing next to the crab for scale, says this particular monster crab has been sighted on earlier trips.
The crab is as big as the entire cooler box!
It's really big! And scary! It's probably a Mud crab (Scylla sp.) These crabs are usually found in mangroves, so it was odd to see this in the middle of the seagrass meadows. These crabs are the kind eaten as chilli crab. They are also released in religious ceremonies, sadly sometimes in inappropriate places. Such "animal liberation", meant to demonstrate kindness, can ironically be cruel to the animals.
Enormous and enormously angry!
As we headed back for the high shore we came across a large patch of the Critically Endangered Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii). So far, this seagrass has only been seen on Chek Jawa, Sungei Buloh and recently also at Kranji Nature Trail.
Often dismissed as scum, this tiny seagrass is very rare!
Before we head home, Rachel, the GIS expert in NParks, took GPS readings of some of the special plants that Chay Hoon showed me on our earlier trip with TeamSeagrass. We had a quick look at the Critically Endangered Mentigi (Pemphis acidula), the Critically Endangered Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata) and the Endangered Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora).
Flowers of the Mentigi (left) and Gedabu (right) seen today.
At the Ubin Jetty, there is a huge barge with two excavators on it. They don't seem to be dredging the area.
The 'arm' of the excavator was permanently
in the water and not moving or dredging.
The work seems to be focused on repairing the Jetty itself with welding and other stuff going on under the jetty.
Near the Boardwalk, there seems to be preparations to do some work. Perhaps replacing the 'timbers' of the boardwalk? What look like wooden timbers on the boardwalk are actually concrete slabs! Have a closer look at them the next time you are there.
At Changi Jetty there's this new sign for people who travel with their pets. I personally find it odd for people to want to take their cat to Pulau Ubin.

All in all, a successful trip retrieving all the precious instruments from Chek Jawa. Hopefully, we will be able to deploy more of these on our other shores so that we can learn more about them. More about TeamSeagrass monitoring on Chek Jawa and elsewhere on the TeamSeagrass blog.

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