20 July 2011

Seagrass sunrise at Chek Jawa

Chek Jawa is particularly enchanting at sunrise! And the seagrasses here are still lush and lovely.
I am here to help with an effort to study seagrasses.

The small team arrived at Ubin Jetty at daybreak. They oblige me with a little group photo.
When we arrived at the study site, we find a crab moult! And spend some time marvelling at how this takes place, leaving behind a perfect but 'empty' crab.
Siti's project is to study the effect of light levels on seagrass growth. She took this photo of the study area in the middle of her experimental set up.
The level of light falling on the study area is controlled and the resulting seagrass growth monitored. To simulate these different light levels, different numbers of shades are placed over the study area.
These shades are attached to a frame. The trouble is, anything left in seawater eventually gets encrusted with marine life and seaweeds gets stuck everywhere. To ensure consistent scientific readings, the shades and frames have to be regularly cleaned.
It's hard work cleaning the equipment!
We take a short break from work when Siti finds a tiny halfbeak (Family Hemiramphidae). We all take a closer look at it. It's so cute! Seagrasses are important habitats for all kinds of creatures, including juveniles of what will eventually grow up to be our favourite seafood.
We enjoyed amazing weather effects today! Although it was bright and sunny, there was a nice breeze and it was mostly cloudy. And we managed to finish the job just as the tide started to turn.
As we head back, I had a quick look around. There were some 'craters' in the sandy parts of the shore, possibly made by stingrays foraging for buried titbits in the sand.
The seagrasses were very healthy today. Lots of lovely fresh green Spoon seagrass (Halophila ovalis). Animals such as Window pane shells (Placuna sp.) are still common here.
Haddon's carpet anemones (Stichodactyla haddoni) stud the seagrass meadows.
The patch of Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) has grown tremendously and now reaches to and beyond the southern sand bar. The blades are nice and green. Among them are marine creatures such as these bright Orange lobed ascidians.
Hurray! Lee Qi and I found some small patches of the rare Beccari's seagrass (Halophila beccarii) near the boardwalk. We also saw nice growths of Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa) but I forgot to take a photo of them. I searched for but failed to find the patch of Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii) near the northern sand bar.
As usual, we come across intriguing furrows in the seagrass that might be dugong feeding trails.
More signs of dugong feeding trails?
I had a quick look at the Critically Endangered Delek Air (Memecylon edule) growing in the coastal forest. One of the trees was blooming! It also had bright red fruits.
A lovely treat awaited us at the Information Kiosk. Durian! Kindly opened and shared by the friendly NParks staff. Another reason why I always enjoy visiting Chek Jawa!
The durian was very much appreciated by the hungry team. Thank you!
Mr Ishak Khan earlier also shared a lovely box of cookies before we started our work. It took a bit of struggle to get the box open! The cookies reminds me of the Moon coral, don't you think? They were delicious!
As we waited for our transport, we are very impressed by this family who cycled all the way to Chek Jawa. The little guy in red rode in on a tiny blue bike! Wow!
And here's our awesome Yellow Van! It is brand new and still smells of paint!
On our way home, we notice Ubin is already gearing up for National Day, and the much photographed "Have a Nice Day" entry way is being cleaned up.
We ended with a much appreciated well deserved lunch at Changi. It's hard work finding out more about our seagrasses. But worth it to better understand them and thus protect them. Thanks to Siti and Benjamin and all the volunteers and friends helping out in these projects!

You can also make a difference for our seagrasses by joining TeamSeagrass.

More about Chek Jawa and  Pulau Ubin. It's now durian season and it won't last much longer! Don't miss it!

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