09 May 2010

Up a creek with a paddle

This morning I had a most enjoyable trip kayaking up Berlayar Creek!
My first trip to a mangrove without getting mud on my booties!

The trip was organised by Andrew, who dealt with all the annoying admin details. Thanks Andrew!
We started off with a briefing by our able kayaking guides. After delicious cake shared by Moira, a most welcomed start to the day!
Then we hauled out the kayaks to the launching point. Those kayaks are heavy! Thank goodness Kwok Peng offered to be my kayak buddy. In the background is the pretty white house on Bukit Cermin, behind it the 'crooked' apartments of Reflections on the Bay. The other wooded area on the right is Marina at Keppel Bay.
Uncle Lim has an awesome kayak that he built! It's a lot lighter and so elegant and beautiful!
Spencer was also there with his foldable kayak and his adorable dog who really loves the water.
The dog literally dragged him into the water!
And happily joined him in the canoe.
The dog sure is having a great time! They had no intentions of joining us and only had a quick paddle around the slipway before going back.
Then it was a quick canoe on calm waters under a blue sky. It's my first time kayaking and it wasn't as difficult as I expected. Perhaps because Kwok Peng was doing all the hard work.
We gently slid into the tranquil mangroves of Berlayar Creek. It's really nice going into the mangroves at high tide, quietly on a kayak. Although there was lots of noise from the Keppel golf club - leaf blowers and other machinery.
It's nice and shady in the mangroves too!
Kwok Peng spotted a Little heron, and a nest up a tree (yellow circle). Andrew also saw some glossy starlings drinking at the mangroves - perhaps the mangroves provide them a kind of salt lick?
It's easy to get close to the trees without trampling on the mud (and getting stuck in the mud too). Here is Beng Chiak taking photos of the trees.
The tide isn't really high, from the high water mark on these trees. And indeed, in some parts, we could see the bottom through the clear waters!
We can get close up to the trees. Kwok Peng has a look at some of the chut-chut snails clinging onto the trunks.
At regular intervals, there were labels on the various trees. These signs had the Keppel Club logo.
My ultimate goal of the day was to see the Bakau pasir. I have heard from Angie and Dr John Yong that there are several here. I didn't manage to get to see the ones further inland on my earlier mud treks. It is too tiring to do the entire stretch of mangroves on foot. So it was a thrill to finally see one of these trees as we reached near the end of the mangroves!
Here's a closer look from a wobbly kayak.
Bakau pasir (Rhizophora stylosa) is listed as Vulnerable and aside from those in the Western Catchment and Pasir Ris, this population at Berlayar Creek is probably among last wild trees on the mainland. Dr John Yong commented on this post that ""most importantly, botanically speaking for Singapore, Tanjung Berlayar is the only place on Singapore mainland to have at least 10 trees of Rhizophora stylosa." These trees are still found in the wild on our offshore islands such as Sentosa, Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin and Pulau Semakau.

There's more Bakau pasir trees! One was labelled too. It's a bit tricky to tell this tree apart from the similar Bakau trees. Here's more on how to tell them apart.
Soon we reach the end of the mangroves, which is the work site for the new Circle Line station at Labrador.
Berlayar Creek is a narrow tidal stream next to Labrador and Keppel Club.It's actually quite long! And thick with mangrove trees!There are plans to build a boardwalk from this station, along the mangroves, cutting across the water in front of Bukit Cermin and ending at Reflections on the Bay near Marina at Keppel Bay.
Alas, the netted area in the mangroves that I last saw in Mar 09 is still there. There is also still lots of marine litter washing up in the area, an ill that plagues all our mangroves and shores. In fact, a group of volunteers took out massive amounts of driftnets from this shore in Nov 07 and Dec 07.
At the end of the trip, we had the tricky problem of getting out of the kayak. Then getting the kayaks up on dry land. Andrew literally jumps in to help!
The Labrador and Berlayar shore is popular with all kinds of people. There was a nice buffet lunch being served at the park nearby. And a pair of young ones were trying to rescue a net that got trapped near the slipway. It's nice to see, in this age of computers, young people still enjoying the outdoors. Of course, it would be nicer still to have this love for the sea be expressed in more positive activities.
Kayaking in Berlayar I feel will help more people appreciate and thus protect our last mainland mangroves. When conducted properly (as ours was today), it can have minimal impact. Certainly far less than walking the mangroves.

Thanks once again to Andrew for organising the trip.

More posts about Berlayar Creek

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ria;
    Good one there! Glad you enjoyed kayaking. If you ever get yourself to Langkawi; I take you out mangroves kayaking (and into a cave as well). Complimentary guide service from me - just for you-lah.



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