01 August 2009

Placid at Pasir Ris

It's not a low tide so it's time to check out the mangroves!
Chay Hoon and I spend a slow morning at Pasir Ris and strolled up Sungei Tampines.

There seems to be a fair amount of replanting at the mangroves of Pasir Ris. It was really nice to see a circle of young Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) trees planted around a pool in the middle of a manicured part of the park. This tree is listed as 'Critically Endangered'. One of the young trees had two flower buds! Alas, we didn't see any open flowers, or ripe fruits.
Further along, there were more young trees planted near the high water mark. Some of them were earlier kindly identified by Dr John Yong as Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata), another tree listed as 'Critically Endangered'. But some of the others I don't really know what they are.
Much further along, we come across a nursery of little mangrove trees!
And some were still really young, with only two leaves!
You can see that much care is lavished on the little trees. There was a shelter built over this young one!
Of course there were lots of common mangrove trees too. Including this handsome Bakau kurap (Rhizophora mucronata). Unlike the very similar Bakau pasir (Rhizophora stylosa), Bakau kurap flowers have a much shorter pointy thing (called the style) on the structure that looks like a Hershey's kiss chocolate. The propagule is also much much longer, while the brown 'fruit' is large compared to the sepals (little yellow pointy things at the top of the 'fruit').
I didn't come across a Rhizophora stylosa, but Chay Hoon pointed out a nice Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata). This one is easy to tell from the other Rhizophora as the flowers have a very short stalk so they appear stuck on the branch.There were several trees with bunches of yellowing leaves. Not sure what they are. Possibly Xylocarpus moluccensis? This tree is listed as 'Endangered' and according to Corners, the leaves wither to yellow.
A special tree that is easily seen at Pasir Ris is the Lenggadai (Bruguiera parviflora) which grows next to the bridge over Sungei Tampines. Today, there were some long propagules with the typical clasping sepals, but alas, no flowers.
Among the more engaging mangrove animals are the countless Tree climbing crabs (Episesarma sp.) that clamber all over the mud. With their flat bodies and flat squarish legs, I am reminded of origami crabs when I see them. Some can be quite colourful!
Chay Hoon spots this little Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator) in a hole up in a mangrove tree! She also finds plenty of little bugs, spiders and other tiny critters.
The tide was high today, and we saw lots of fishes in the water from the bridge, including little Archerfishes (Toxotes jaculatrix) and even a little jellyfish (Acromitus sp.). With boardwalks, you can explore the mangroves at any tide!

Alas, the animals in the mangroves and the little young mangrove trees have to be careful of litter and abandoned fishing lines and other dangerous obstacles left behind by humans.
Our mangroves have many special flora and fauna, and we should enjoy and look after them.

More about Pasir Ris Park and the mangroves there. There is a guided walk of the mangroves specially for kids every third Saturday of the month. The next one is on 15 Aug.

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