09 August 2009

The Other Side of St. John's Island

Today, while the rest of the team had fun hunting slugs in the reefs, I decided to check out the other side of St. John's Island.
Mainly to look for rarey mangrove trees. I found them and other surprises as well.

It was a predawn start and I thought at first plants wouldn't look too good photographed in the dark. But it appears not. This Seashore pandan (Pandanus tectorius) was blooming. The white fluffy thing are the male flowers. There are lots of this pandan growing on the natural cliffs of St. John's.
Another abundant tree was the beautiful Penaga laut (Calophyllum inophyllum), and many were blooming and fruiting.
A lovely surprise was several patches of Pitcher plants (Nepenthes sp.). These are also found on other natural cliffs such as Sentosa, so I shouldn't have been too surprised.

This one is probably the Raffles' pitcher plant (Nepenthes rafflesiana).
It has red-speckled pitchers, and many stalks of fruits.
There was another patch of pitcher plants that might be some other species.
It had narrow green pitchers and a stalk of flowers.
Other nice surprises were two patches of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichi)! This side of St. John's faces the Sisters Islands, on the horizon.
The seagrasses were quite lush.
And much further on, an even bigger patch of these seagrasses!
And in between, there was one clump of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides).
Of course there was Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis) in many parts of this shore too.

This side of St. John's has all kinds of strange and wonderful natural rock formations. Like this slab of rock riddled with holes like cheese. It was a condominium for all kinds of tiny plants and animals. The 'condo' was sitting on top of an almost flat pavement-like slab.
Little stones trapped in depressions continue to grind out holes in harder rock. Forming pools for animals to live in.
My main job today was to find and document the rare Xylocarpus rumphii. I found the three trees that I encountered in my earlier trip here.
And further along, I found yet another one! So there are FOUR of these trees that are listed as 'Critically endangered' on our Red List. St. John's probably has the most number of these rare trees of our Southern Islands.
Like the other three trees, this one also had a label nailed onto it.

This rare mangrove tree typically grows on rocky shores among big boulders under a natural cliff. These boulders are a natural result of the cliffs crumbling away.
Unfortunately, large areas of the natural cliffs on this shore has been cemented over as part of slope protection works to prevent the cliffs from falling down.
Some plants are already taking over the cemented area.
But the kind of regeneration over cemented areas is probably not as rich as that found on slope failures that are left alone. You can also see that there are no large boulders under the cemented area.
I had a bit of an adventure trying to get off the shore (which is why I wouldn't recommend anyone going to this part of the shore without a thorough understanding of the tides and the layout of the island). Then I had a quick look at the secret mangroves on St. John's Island.

I was dead beat by the time I caught up with the rest of team. They too seemed tired out from working hard on slugs all day.
Find out about their day on their blog posts.

More posts about this trip

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