17 April 2011

Abandoned driftnet check at Mandai mangroves

A small team check Mandai mangroves for abandoned nets as part of Project Driftnet.
It was a lovely blue sky day but scorching hot! Turned out it was about 35degC! We baked in our full-length anti-mozzie gear!

We slowly checked out the mangroves all the way to Sungei Mandai Kecil. And were glad not to encounter any large nets.
On the way back, I headed for this net that I saw on my earlier trips to this mangrove. It's wound around the roots of a very large Nyireh bunga (Xylocarpus granatum). Chay Hoon and Kah Ming start working on removing it.
Chay Hoon found one Mangrove horseshoe crab that was lightly entangled in the net. It wasn't very large and it was very much alive.
We look on the underside and it's a male. See the bulbous first two pincers? The males use these pincers to hang onto the female's back and be in position to fertilise her eggs when she lays them.
I attempted to tackle this mess of nets wound around another tree. I didn't realise until I had removed most of it that there was another horseshoe crab hiding under the mess. Fortunately it wasn't entangled into the nets.
It was a little larger.
And it's a female. See, she has no bulbous first pincers.
Meanwhile, Andy works on the partially buried net that extends out from the tree.
With many hands we soon removed most of the unburied net.
Then it was time to haul out the nets. We decided to walk up Sungei Mandai Besar to avoid trampling the mangroves. It was hard walking upstream against the current!
Finally, we emerge from the mangroves.
A short trek on the tracks and we're back to blessed cool civilisation. A cool drink (or two) and some dinner and we're as good as new.
The nets are hauled home for proper trash disposal.
Thanks to Andy, Chay Hoon and Kah Ming for helping with this check and removal.

In the past, driftnets at Mandai mangroves have dealt a heavy toll on horseshoe crabs. Siva shares about an encounter with 300 horseshoe crabs trapped in abandoned nets at Mandai, with links to earlier similar encounters. It seems Mandai is teeming with horseshoe crabs. During the recent Mega Marine Survey at Mandai, lots of horseshoe crabs and horseshoe crab eggs were seen. More about horseshoe crabs at Kranji and Mandai.

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