26 February 2011

A short stroll to the mangroves at Sungei Jelutong, Pulau Ubin

I have heard much about the mangroves at Sungei Jelutong. We've tried before, but somehow couldn't find a way to reach the mouth of the Sungei.
Today, Chay Hoon and I managed to find a way to get there!

Before we start, as usual, we have a fortifying breakfast at Pak Ali's shop. Today, delicious homemade nasi lemak! With lots of drinks to take along with us on our little trek.
Well fed and tanked up on kopi, we headed off for another adventure on Ubin. What a delight to find a well trodden path through the ferny forest heading towards the mangroves!
Soon we reached a nice rocky shore, full of little snails and the usual marine life. The water was quite clear, but the tide not very low so I couldn't see if there were anything more interesting in the water.
Following the shore (fortunately the tide was lowish), we reached the mangroves at Sungei Jelutong! There seems to be some erosion on this shore, with the roots of many seaward facing trees being exposed.
The dominant trees at the seaward edge seems to be Rhizophora trees. Their stilt roots make a pretty sight.
There were also lots of Bruguiera trees with their knee roots. Some parts of the mangroves are nice and sandy!
There were lots of the usual common mangroves. Most seem to be in good health. Among the interesting plants I saw were several small Tengar merah (Ceriops zippeliana) which are listed as Endangered.
We also came across an enormous Dungun (Heritiera littoralis)! It must have been about 15m tall! I've not seen such a large one before. It was full of leaves! We didn't want to wade deep into the mangroves as we weren't sure of the route out. So we didn't loiter to closely peer at all the plants in the mangroves.
On the way out, we encountered a clump of towering Seashore pandan (Pandanus tectorius) growing among regular pandan and other lush plants in a small swampy spot. The regular pandan gave a lovely fragrance to the area!
Throughout the morning stroll, we enjoyed the song of all kinds of birds. Chay Hoon spotted a Drongo, and we saw a pair of Hill mynas calling from the tops of two dead coconut palms. These birds with trendy yellow bands on their heads can mimic the calls of other birds and even people!
Of course, Chay Hoon saw lots of interesting bugs. And there were a lot of Golden orb web spiders (Nephila sp.) today.

As we were enjoying the calm morning, a boat blasting music started to zoom up and down with a wake boarder in tow. 
Sadly, as with many of our other shores, there is a lot of litter accumulated here. In particular, there are great piles of abandoned driftnets entangled on the trees and plants on the high shore.
Fine nets are abandoned on the rocky shores.
Heavy nets abandoned and twined around roots.
Long lines of abandoned nets stretch out across the shore.
More abandoned nets draped around the stilt roots of mangrove trees. And also many tyres.
There's also all kinds of trash behind the mangrove trees, on the high water line.
In a back mangrove patch thick with Bruguiera trees, there are piles of roofing, shattered mirrors, glass bottles and other large trash. It seems this area is being treated as the local rubbish tip.
Despite this, the mangroves here are not as badly trashed as some others that I've been to recently. Marine debris is a never ending issue. Fortunately, the volunteers at International Coastal Cleanup Singapore are keeping an eye on the situation. Check out their blog for more on how you can contribute.

The mangroves at Sungei Jelutong are intriguing and I should certainly come back for a longer visit!


  1. Nice post. Try to travel up S. Jelutong during a high tide in a small boat. It's great mangrove forest.....and you may spot the B. hainesii along the upper reaches.

  2. Would be awesome to spot the B. hainesii!

  3. Ah... I can certainly vouch for the delicious nasi lemak that you and Chay Hoon were wolfing down when I met you at Pak Ali's shop. We also had a good weekend at Ubin, having found at least 3 new butterfly species in the past three outings! Look out for the articles in my blog. One has already been featured. Do look out for our little butties as well during your mangrove walks. Who knows, you may also discover something new for us!

  4. It was lovely seeing you on Ubin, and glad to hear you had a good trip too. Can't wait to read about it on your blog.

    I do see lots of butterflies in the mangroves but alas, I'm not as good at photographing them as you and the BC team are. They fly so fast! I will try harder in future.

  5. Not to worry, Ria. Just shoot whatever you can. Don't bother about photographically-perfect shots. What we need is a shot of a butterfly that is good enough to ID. I say that cos you spend far more time in the mangrove areas that anyone in BC does. We 'terrestials' avoid 'quick-mud' like the plague! :p

    So we may be missing some important species that are part of the mangrove ecology and you are more likely to encounter something in that habitat than any of us!

  6. Ooo, now I'm motivated. OK, bad blurry butt shots coming your way soon!

    Quick mud is not so bad. The key is to walk quickly when it's soft (which I learnt from the Master of Mud, Chee Kong), so you don't sink too deeply. Once you stop (like to take a photo of a butt), then you're doomed to crawl out on your knees.

    Which isn't always so bad. The mud sometimes is nice and silky smooth. A layer of mud on the skin also keeps away the bugs, which I learnt from the late Priscilla the Pig.



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