27 February 2011

Back to the rare seagrass meadows at Kranji for a closer look

I returned to the vast meadows of rare seagrasses that I glimpsed at Kranji a week ago, to take a closer look.
I skirted the prickly high shore growths and plunged through some 'quick mud' to reach the tree line on the Kranji side of Sungei Mandai Besar.

The expansive meadows of the Critically Endangered Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii) here seem to be lush and thick throughout.
The rare seagrasses carpet the entire mudflat, starting from the trash line on the high shore.
The meadows stretched right to the edge of Sungei Mandai Besar. On the horizon are the high rise buildings at Johor Baru, and the trees are Mandai mangroves.
The seagrass meadows are dotted with mangrove saplings. Most of the saplings seem to be Perepat (Sonneratia alba). I noticed a similar situation along Kranji Nature Trail, with Perepat saplings dotting the Beccari's seagrass meadows there.
There are lots of tall large mangrove trees here. Most of these tall old trees were Api-api putih (Avicennia alba) with a few large Perepat (Sonneratia alba).
On the other side of Sungei Mandai Besar, the tranquil mangroves of Mandai. More about Mandai mangroves on this compilation of links provided by N. Sivasothi.
In the middle was a large clump of Nipah palm (Nypa fruticans).
It was flowering and fruiting! Alas, also draped in plastic sheet trash.
There were lots of plastic sheets on the mudflats. When wrapped around the base of mangrove trees, these might affect the trees' ability to put out breathing roots.
I saw several large mangrove trees that had fallen over. Both on the Kranji side and on the Mandai side. Some seem to have fallen more recently than others.
This tree seems to have just fallen over.
As on my earlier trip, the water line was thick with egrets and herons. I also saw some Sandpipers flitting along the high shore.
There were countless little crabs on the mud. They all scuttled away too swiftly for me to shoot with feebly sneaky cam. But this crab stayed still long enough for me to take a shaky shot.
The area was thickly covered in some places with the empty shells of a large heavy clam.
This half-buried clam was still alive. It squirted water out when I gently picked it up. Is it Lokan (Geloina sp. aka Polymesoda sp.)? The clam that Dr Tan Koh Siang says is so well adapted to being out of water that you can keep one in your drawer for a month (see the video clip of Dr Tan sharing about this clam during the Mega Marine Survey at Admiralty Park).
Of course the trees are full of snails. This periwinkle was stuck to the underside of a branch.
As I headed home, I take a closer look at the plants along the shore line. The thorny creepers that cloak the mangroves on the high shores were in bloom. At first glance, I thought they were Maiden's jealousy (Tristellateia australasiae), but a closer look and I think they are Caesalpinia crista! This probably means the yellow flowers I saw at Punggol mangroves a few days ago were also Caesalpina crista.
Only a few flower bunches were low enough for a closer look. They are gorgeous! But the plant is very prickly and can really rip skin and clothes. To avoid them, I had to risk 'quick mud' on the mud flats.
A closer look at the flowers. I saw the fruits of this plant at Kranji Nature Trail a few weeks ago. Here's more about the plant on The Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online.
There were branches of this plant sticking out of the thickets of the climber. Could it be the Mangrove Trumpet tree (Dolichandrone spathacea)? I couldn't quite tell if it was a tall tree or a short one, due to the prickly thicket. This tree is listed as Critically Endangered.
I also saw this tree that I've not seen close up before. Is it Intsia bijuga? The tree was quite tall and it was windy, so sneaky cam couldn't take a very good photo of the leaves. Intsia bijuga is listed as Critically Endangered.
This tree was growing just below the high water mark.
I also saw a largish Dungun (Heritiera littoralis). The tree is listed as Endangered.
I also saw one small Teruntum (Lumnitzera sp.) and several small Portia trees (Thespesia polpunea), most of which were rather chewed up.
I walked right to the end of navigable mudflat where a culvert drains into the mangroves, surrounded as usual, by trash.
Some of the litter appear to have been dumped on the shore and not floated in from elsewhere. Like this empty bag formerly containing Indian rice. At the end of the trip, when I went to the little shops at Kranji, they were selling these packets of rice.
Amongst the distressing piles of litter were some odd rubbish.
A radio.
Discarded furniture?
Marine debris is a never ending issue. Fortunately, the volunteers at International Coastal Cleanup Singapore are keeping an eye on the situation. Check out their blog for more on how you can contribute.

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