10 May 2015

Otters at Chek Jawa!

I had a great time at Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs on our monthly free guided tour of the boardwalk.
Thanks to wonderful visitors who spotted cool stuff. We saw otters! Also wild boar, and other Ubin favourites!

Here's all the visitors and Crabs ready to go for our walk. This time, I thought we should take the group photo with nature all around us.
While we were along the Coastal Boardwalk, some visitor spotted otters. There were three of them galloping along the exposed flats.
They soon disappeared into the waterline near the end of the boardwalk. Smooth-coated otters are now quite commonly seen on the mainland. At Chek Jawa, we've seen them in Jun 2012Sep 2011, Jul 2011 and Nov 2010.
The fiddler crabs are always a hit with the visitors. Sharp-eyed visitors also spotted Giant mudskippers, tree-climbing crabs, horseshoe crabs and with the incoming tide, lots of needlefish.
The seagrasses are doing well at Chek Jawa. And many shorebirds come to feed on the rich intertidal flats. I'm so glad to see this lovely signage about the birds.
I noticed three Haddon's carpet anemones that were bleaching or showing signs of bleaching. Oh dear. Like corals, Carpet anemones harbour inside their bodies, tiny algae that make food from sunlight. The algae shares the food with the anemone, while the anemone shelters the algae. But when the water is too hot or there are other stresses, the algae leaves the anemone and the anemone turns white or flourescent.
It has been very hot lately, so we are all keeping an eye out for bleaching. Here's the latest Bleaching Alert Areas from the NOAA website. Singapore falls in the 'Watch' status.What is coral bleaching and why this is of concern on the Bleach Watch Singapore blog.
But most of the Carpet anemones were not bleaching. Even those fully exposed out of water. I didn't see any of these anemones bleaching when I surveyed Chek Jawa three weeks ago. Hopefully, our marine life will get through this year's bleaching event safely.
We were fortunate to come across Mama wild boar and her piglets feeding naturally in the forested area along the paths near House No. 1. Chay Hoon shares more about them.
If we don't get to close and are quiet, the wild animals will allow us to look at them doing their natural thing. There is no need to feed our wild animals. They can find the right food that is good for them in the forest. If we feed them, we will only hurt them. Here's more about why feeding wild animals kills them.
The little piglets still have their stripes! Which allow them to blend in so well among the sun-dappled the leaf litter. Pei Yan counted 8 little piglets (down from 12 the first time we saw them a month ago). It is nature's way that not all piglets grow up to adulthood. Often only 1 out of the batch will make it to produce new piglets. That is why it is important to have predators to keep nature in balance.
We end our walk with a drawing session and as usual, the kids share such awesome art work. Although some are a little shy about it. Thank you!
Come and join the Naked Hermit Crabs for the next free monthly guided tour. Or find out more about Pulau Ubin and explore it on your own. A special upcoming event is Ubin Day, where people passionate about Ubin are offering wonderful events and activities to celebrate and enjoy Pulau Ubin.

Back at Ubin Town, we indulge in our favourite Pepper Crab at the Two Sisters' Restaurant. We suspect our favourite Ubin-only Sunday-only Lontong is extinct. So we are now determined to properly appreciate all our favourite Ubin food as often as we can.
Alas, we saw large debris on Chek Jawa. It is important to identify the major sources of trash around Chek Jawa and try to stop them. For example, AVA does not provide the fish farms around Pulau Ubin with trash collection services.
At Chang Point Ferry Terminal, there were stacks and stacks of bags on both sides of the pontoon. The bumboat operator told us this was to be inserted into the pontoons to keep them stable.
A closer look at the contents of the bags. Some kind of construction waste?
Dredging of Changi Creek is on-going and the large equipment (see humans for scale) were still parked at the Creek, although there was no actual dredging going on. More about the impacts of dredging on water quality and marine health.
I noticed a distinct colour difference in the water between the shallows of Changi and the Johor Strait. It didn't just rain and there was no dredging going on, so I'm not sure what this means.
But the water looks ok, not tea-coloured which usually means there is a plankton bloom. Indeed, we are in the middle of a weak spring tide so hopefully, the flushing will keep the water quality good.
So many things can affect the water quality around Pulau Ubin, Chek Jawa and our favourite shores on the mainland such as Pasir Ris and Changi. Let's hope all remain well until we get a chance to visit again.

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