08 April 2009

Weekday Woodlands Mangrove Muckabout

There's a patch of mangroves at Woodlands Park, and I've been trying to have a look at it. During the weekends, though, it's impossible to find a parking lot as the carpark is free and the New Town is jammed with people.
I've been wanting to make a weekday trip there, and today an opportunity arose.

Woodlands Park is all pretty with palms and pines, and arching bridges in a kitschie 1960s kind of way.In the Park, it's all trim and neat and safety is a big concern.

But lurking at the edges of this Disneyesque park, is a Real Mangrove!All stinky, mosquito-ridden and FULL of amazing plants and animals!It meanders on towards a wooded portion where the vegetation is more freshwater. Amazing!There were LOTS of Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) everywhere. They were blooming and fruiting, and so of course, there were also lots of Cotton stainer bugs (Dysdercus decussatus) which feed on the seeds. The adults are handsome in black and red with wings, while the juveniles are all red, smooth and wingless.It was also a thrill to see lots of HUGE Pong-pong trees (Cerbera odollam) that were growing on the mangrove side and not the park side. So perhaps they are our very own native Pong-pong trees.A closer look at the tree with the white flowers and round fruits. I didn't see any with pink-centred flowers, so alas, they didn't seem to be the rarer Cerbera manghas.

And while wandering inside the mangroves looking at some special plants, I came across a whole bunch of these odd-shaped snails (Pythia sp.)These snails are only found in mangroves, and breathe air (instead of through gills like most other marine snails). They in fact lack an operculum or door, to close the shell opening.
They were out and about! I so rarely get to see the animal.Hmm ... they are really out and about. Perhaps making new snails?

Alas, a less pleasant find were several balloons in the mangroves.Balloons are fun and colourful, and people love to celebrate with them. Unfortunately, people forget about them when the balloons float or blow away. Out of sight, out of mind. But the balloons don't disappear. They become part of the huge and ever growing problem of marine litter; and marine litter kills.

What is even more tragic is when balloons are PURPOSELY released into the environment in a DELIBERATE activity. I still fail to understand how such wanton littering can be seen as part of celebration or fun.


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