13 February 2011

Celebrating the Submerged Forest at Sungei Buloh

Sungei Buloh had a special mangrove exhibition yesterday to celebrate World Wetlands Day as well as International Year of Forests 2011.
Rushing back after the very muddy Mega Marine Survey on Pulau Ubin, I managed to get a glimpse of some of the many fun happenings at Sungei Buloh yesterday.

Wow, we get to taste the mangroves! There's a lovely set up of food products from the mangroves which you can sample.
From the Nipah palm, there's everyone's favourite desert 'attap chee', and gula melaka or brown sugar.
Also dried prawns and 'ikan bilis' or anchovies. I heard there were also delicious 'goreng pisang' or banana fritters, which were all gone by the time I got there. What do fritters have to do with the mangroves? Well it turns out that to get crispy fritters, the secret ingredient is a sprinkling of powdered mangrove shells in the batter!
Mendis had put up a nice slide show of mangrove plants and animals.
With lots of wonderful photos shared by Dr John Yong.
There was a whole spread of exhibits of mangrove life!
Including real crocodile eggs! To me, they felt just like chicken eggs and are not soft and leathery as I expected them to be.
Some creatures are rarely seen and can only be observed as preserved specimens. Like this mud lobster in a bottle.
Of course there's a huge variety of snails and clams in our mangroves. There was also a tank of live specimens, but all my photos of them didn't turn out well.
Also lots of samples of mangrove plants, with Dr John Yong's handy mangrove guidesheets to help everyone learn more about them. You can download his guidesheets here.
On the main bridge, more live specimens of the freshwater and brackish water fishes found in Sungei Buloh.
Among the most fascinating fishes are the Archerfish! There were also pufferfishes, silver moonies, halfbeaks and even a juvenile queenfish! As well as shrimps and prawns.
Here's some visitors fascinated by our fishy mangroves.
And more exhibits and activities were going on further along. I only managed to catch them shutting down the station where visitors could try their hand at weaving attap roof shingles. How fun!
There were guided walks throughout the morning. I only managed to meet some of the volunteer guides as they were signing out.
In the morning, they saw otters (twice!) and the crocodile. But I was happy to stumble across a sunny sun skink sunning on a tiny patch of sunlight on the boardwalk.
Many interesting books, pamphlets and guide sheets available about Sungei Buloh. You can still get them from the Visitor Centre at any other day.
Throughout the Visitor Centre, there were lots of posters explaining Singapore's forests, mangroves and their roles.
With more about the rare and interesting mangroves that can be seen at Sungei Buloh.
As well as the importance of the Reserve.
And the many ways ordinary people can be a part of this wonderful mangrove. Find out more at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve website.
The mangrove exhibition will remain at the Reserve until Sep 2011. More about the exhibition on the Reserve website.

Saturday was also the launch of the new free wireless trail at Sungei Buloh which allows visitors to use their smartphones to get multimedia content like videos of the reserve's wildlife, bird calls and quizzes. More about downloading software from http://www.czip.sg/. More media articles about the wireless trail.

Saturday was a busy day! I joined the enthusiastic volunteers at the Mega Marine Survey at Pulau Ubin in the morning for a very muddy but fun field trip. I only just managed to catch the Sungei Buloh mangrove exhibition before they shut down for the day.
There were other Saturday happenings that I sadly had to miss. The Naked Hermit Crabs were doing the monthly free guided tour of the Chek Jawa boardwalk. I met the Crabs at Changi Jetty before I headed out for the Mega Marine Survey. I'm sure they had another great walk, and I'm sorry I couldn't be with them.
On the way home from Ubin, I bumped into Marcus Chua aka the Ubinator leading one of the many NUS student trips to learn about ecology and Pulau Ubin. They saw mudskippers and hornbills and more!
It's awesome to know that there's so much going on for our mangroves and wild places!

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