18 February 2012

Mangrove and coral updates and Berlayar Creek walk

Despite the rainy weather, a large crowd of volunteers with the NParks Conservation Division gathered to listen to some exciting developments in our wild places.
Today, we focused on many marine issues with updates on mangroves at Pulau Tekong, work on the marine biodiversity survey, and efforts to restore corals and giant clams on our shores!

I was fascinated to learn more about the effort to conserve Tekong mangroves. Shufen shared more about the Coastal Protection and Restoration to stop erosion and encourage regrowth in one of the best mangroves left in Singapore!
She shared the intricacies of the project and the various pilot tests and lessons learnt. And the final design which was ground-breaking in many ways and has won many accolades.
She highlighted some of the special aspects, including re-planting a variety (instead of just one) species of mangroves on the rock bund, the use of biodegradable components and successful of nursery processes including the use of native mangrove plants instead of imported plants.
The results are encouraging, although continued monitoring will be required. The lessons learnt will hopefully help us deal with similar problems in our other mangroves and possibly also mangroves elsewhere! Here's more about the Tekong project.
Jonathan also gave his usual briefing on the Mega Marine Survey, more properly called the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Surveys. Among the updates, he highlighted how some finds were featured in a recent Straits Times article.
Collin then shared more about awesome efforts to use coral larvae to restore our reefs. With the provocative title "Rehabilitation of Singapore’s Reef using Sexually Reared Corals" we learnt more about how corals were raised from eggs and sperm to tiny corals that settled on concrete plugs.
These plugs can then be planted out on our reefs! Work continues to monitor and improve these processes.
Collin then shared more about one of my favourite marine animals: the Giant clam. There is a Giant Clam Project to raise these awesome animals from eggs and sperm and also plant them out on our reefs!
Here's some great reasons for reintroducing giant clams on our reefs.
There was also an interesting exchange of views among volunteers, followed by a tea break when everyone got a chance to catch up with one another.

After that, we all headed out for a short walk on the newly opened Berlayar Creek boardwalk.
The boardwalk takes us through the narrow mangrove that line the Creek, among the last mangroves on the mainland in the South. Along the way, we see beetles, lizards and spot some small birds.
From the observation platforms, we spot various kinds of mudskippers! Also nests, more birds and other kinds of fishes.
I was delighted to see a Blue-spotted mudskipper!
The boardwalk goes all the way to Vivo City, but I turned back when it reached the end of the mangroves on Berlayar Creek. On the way back, we bumped into the Prime Minister taking a walk there too! Ling Ling and I were too surprised to say more than "Good Evening" as we passed him.
It's good to know that the mangroves at Berlayar Creek are being appreciated by all kinds of people!

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