02 May 2009

Chek Jawa with TeamSeagrass

Back for another morning trip with TeamSeagrass for the Seagrass Watch workshop.
And Pulau Ubin is decked out in colourful banners for Vesak Day!

Pulau Ubin is one of the rare places in Singapore where the old festivals are still celebrated in full splendour in accordance with traditional practice and not as a tourist attraction. It was nice to be able to share this with Len and Rudi of Seagrass Watch HQ.They made the trip to Singapore specially to train the volunteers of TeamSeagrass. And today, we learnt how to set up a monitoring site.
While first time volunteers learnt more about how to conduct monitoring.After the first batch of volunteers finished monitoring, I took them on a very quick run through the mangrove boardwalk. With a brief stop to look at the lovely Bruguiera sexangula planted there. This tree is very rare in Singapore and these are seedlings from a tree in Pulau Tekong. See Dr John Yong's comments about this tree on my earlier post about it.Here's a comparison between the Bruguiera sexangula (on the left) and the more commonly seen Bruguiera gymnorrhiza (on the right). B. sexangula has a yellow calyx (the cup shaped thing with pointy tips) while B. gymnorrhiza often has a red one, although those that grow in the shade may also have pale or yellowish ones.One key difference is in brown petals of the flower. B. sexangula petals don't have the long tassels at the tips of the petals that B. gymnorrhiza has.

Even at a quick run through the boardwalk, we saw flowering Hoya as well as noticed the planted Sonneratia caseolaris near the tower. Can't wait to see them bloom and fruit!We hopped quickly over to the shore next to House No. 1 and it is still covered with the rare and tiny Beccarii's seagrass (Halophila beccarii)! This seagrass is so tiny that it looks like scum and is often overlooked.It can be identified by its narrow leaves that appear in a rosette of about five leaves. Although small, they do have deep roots.Today I noticed Beccarri's seagrasses seemed to be growing well among mounds of what looked like Nest mussels (Musculista senhausia). These tiny mussels create 'beds' by trapping sediments with their byssus threads.Here's a closer look at the seagrass and the tiny holes where the mussels lie buried. We noticed an abundance of these mussels following the massive flooding that affected Chek Jawa in 2007. Does this sort of thing encourage the growth of this tiny seagrass? There's so much more to learn about our shores.
Alas, some areas where there were lots of Beccarii's seagrass (marked with yellow arrows) were also the location of some large abandoned fishing nets. These nets are still there despite earlier efforts to remove them. There's just too much of them!Meanwhile, veteran TeamSeagrass member Andy was checking out the shores for marine trash. Andy is also with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, and is finding out more for planning for the mass cleanup. And he got stuck in soft mud. But us experienced shore explorers know how to get out of such sticky situations. Alas, Andy found lots of litter including an entire sofa!Cheng Puay quickly shares about some of the magnificent mangrove trees on this shore, before we head back.While waiting to go home at Ubin jetty, I noticed this man bringing home a bucket of clams.

It has been a gruelling series of field trips, and low tides start again in barely less than a week.


  1. The mud at some places was super soft and sticky...the pic shows me crawling out of a sticky situation on my knees to spread the weight as walking on one's feet would cause one to sink in above the knees...it was very(!) tiring getting unstuck.

    The beccarii was so tiny that I totally missed the beccarii plots. I mistook tiny ovalis leaves for beccarii. R's sharp eagle eyes spotted them in no time.

  2. Yeah Andy, you were doing a great job getting out of the mud. Cheng Puay was doing a running commentary for the young ones to explain how you were doing it.



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