24 May 2012

Prepping for the Festival: Chek Jawa

A small team heads out to Chek Jawa early this morning to prepare for a very special Marine Exhibition at the Festival of Biodiversity this weekend.
We arrived on Pulau Ubin at the first light of dawn!

When we reached Chek Jawa, Mama wild boar and her babies were already up and about. Here she is giving her babies a thorough grooming session. She is really a good mama. Alas, I only counted five little babies, down from seven in previous weeks. Well, it is nature's way for only the fittest to survive.
How nice to see the Festival of Biodiversity poster up at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk! Thank you Ubin NParks for sharing this event with visitors to Chek Jawa!
As the Festival fast approaches, over the next two days, we are gathering small amounts of seagrasses for a live display at the Marine Exhibition there. This will hopefully allow more people to get a closer look at our seagrasses. Thanks to Siti, we are able to get our samples from Chek Jawa today, and tomorrow from the fabulous Cyrene Reef!
Chek Jawa is one of the few places in Singapore with large amounts of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata). Siti teaches us how to carefully collect a small sample of this and other seagrasses here.
One of the special seagrasses found only on northern shores like Chek Jawa and Changi is Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa). These have very thin delicate underground roots. We also carefully gathered some large-leaved Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) which is more commonly seen in the North. As well as some Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) and the rare Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii)
There's lots of amazing marine life at Chek Jawa. Most of them cannot survive being brought away from the shore. So we just take photos of them and leave them where they are.
Like this pair of mating Dendrodoris denisoni nudibranchs! Sneaky cam doesn't take a good photo of them, but these two are side by side, head to tail. These animals are hermaphrodites with both male and female reproductive organs. When two nudis mate, they exchange sperm and then each goes on to lay a ribbon of eggs!
We also saw many Geographic sea hares (Syphonota geographica) and their pink noodly egg strings. Slugs don't do well in captivity, so they stay on the shore.
Wow, a small blonde Knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus)!
We are also gathering a small selection of common seaweeds. Every time I try to gather some seaweed, I notice some marine life nearby. This carpet eel-blenny (Congrogadus subducens) was perfectly camouflaged among the green seaweeds!
There's still lots of marine life at Chek Jawa. Here is a flowery sea pen (Family Veretillidae) and a nice healthy little Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni).
Also some colourful cerianthids (Order Ceriantharia).
There were also many Thorny sea cucumbers (Colochirus quadrangularis) as well as more Pink warty sea cucumbers (Cercodemas anceps) than usual. I was also glad to come across several Garlic sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra) and Ball sea cucumbers (Phyllophorus sp.).
Wow, some dugong feeding trails!
Oh dear, I noticed some erosion in this small patch of seagrass on the Southern sand bar, leaving the underground roots of the seagrasses exposed. I get the sense that while the Northern sand bar is getting larger, the Southern sand bar is getting smaller. From this brief walk, I feel that the shores to the west of the pontoon are still the way they used to be, while the shores to the east are experiencing some changes.
Unlike my trip to Chek Jawa a week ago, today I only saw a few bleaching Carpet anemones. And I didn't see large number of uprooted sea cucumbers. That's a relief!
There's lots of work still ahead of us to prepare for an awesome Marine Exhibition! Come visit us this weekend to meet passionate volunteers who will share our marine life and the work being done for them, check out this amazing marine colouring sheet for kids and the young-at-heart, try out games like Seashore CSI and more!

There's lots more going on at the Festival of Biodiversity too!
Be bedazzled by butterflies and birds, awed by trees and seagrasses, tickle your curiosity with crabs and colugos. Singapore is wilder that you might imagine. Find out more about our biodiversity and what you can do to make a difference!

Visit the Festival of Biodiversity blog for the latest updates!

Dates: 26 May (Sat) and 27 May (Sun)
Venue: Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens location map
Website and contact: http://festivalofbiodiversitysingapore.wordpress.com/

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