Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ups and downs at Chek Jawa

Today the sea anemone team were out in the field again and this time to Chek Jawa. Gun Kiat, Yikang and I also joined along. I have not been to CJ so early just before the sun rises and the view is really breathtaking from the coral rubble area.

Among the firsts to catch Dr Daphne's attention were the juvenile cerianthids or the peacock anemones. Judging from the seagrass blade, you can see how small they are and I have not paid attention to them before.

The team did not managed to find any of Stichodactyla gigantea which has longer tenacles that pulsate. Those carpet anemones from Chek Jawa are mostly Stichodactyla haddoni where there are long-short tentacles fringing the side of these carpet anemones. These haddoni species are doing very well at the coral rubble area.

These fifty cents coin-like "mini-carpet anemone" lookalike are not baby Stichodactyla haddoni but according to their near arrangement of tentacles near the centre, these are actually Stichodactyla tapetum which will not grow to be as big as haddoni species.

I thought that usually the residents of these disused big shells would be those hermit crabs but here there's a juvenile thunder crab living in it.

Chek Jawa is not called coral rubble for nothing. Indeed you can find the remains of the mushroom coral and this one is huge.

I was walking close to the reef edge in slight murky waters of the coral rubble trying to find something special. I chanced upon the first living coral I've ever seen in Chek Jawa. Anyone can help me with the id???

Magnificent sunrise over Johor and Tekong.

Other life sighted were this little sea cucumber and the brittlestar on the right.

Dr Daphne and team were very hardworking into finding the anemones. They found these Diadumene luciae growing on and near to the barnacles of the boardwalk pontoon. As you can see, they have red lines radiating from the centre.

More of such anemones can be seen and these ones are have white stripes. Are they also Diadumene luciae or another species?

There is this another small anemone found by Yuchen. The team will bring it back to Raffles museum to check the id of this anemone and also to store for future research or education purposes that is going to benefit many.

I was also doing some work for my project. An attempt was made to compare past photos with current ones. The one on the left was taken by Ria during 20th Jan 2007, source: Team Seagrass website. It shows the mass death event where animals and anemones turned white and died. The photo taken on the right shows the barren sandbar with no carpet anemones but just strewn with seaweed.

After my rounds of taking photographs, the team walked towards the mangrove side and I was proceeding to transect 3 area to do some checking out of the 300m stretch. And halfway through, something sharp struck through my booties and whacked my foot.

"Ouch!" I yelled. Quickly, I turned and looked what had caused that and it was a hard and sharply-pointed prop root of the mangrove. Thank God its no stonefish or whatever venomous creatures. The pain got the better of me, thus I took off my booties and examined the punctured wound. Blood was flowing profusely outward at first but thankfully it stopped soon. Followed were those first aid attempts on it and I put back my booties and tried to continue to do the work that needs to be done by today.

But I can't go on after a while. Thankfully, Gun Kiat and Yikang were there to lend a hand. After much briefing of what to do, they took the clipboard, notes, photos, GPS and compass and proceeded to help me do the work while I rested on the high shore. And they went far far away.

Because we were punctual and timely for today's trip, we also ended early without to chase after the tides.

After some washing up was done, I tooked this photo outside House no. 1 of the imminent thunderstorm that approaches.

On the bumboat trip back, the storm caught up from westward direction.

And Ria alerted us there is a water sprout! WOW. I always wanted to see with my own eyes and here it is just a short distance away from us at Serangoon Harbour. It was huge and spectacular.

Today was pretty eventful and uneventful at the same time. Come to think of it, Ria and company were discussing openly in the van about stonefishes and stingrays bites and it sort of materialized. Though this root thingy is relatively nothing compared to a stonefish sting, it taught me a painful lesson to walk more gently on the shore and open my eyes bigger to see where I thread. It's a bit swollen now but I will go and see a doctor tomorrow late afternoon, so no worries. Thank you Ria for your concern too :-)

Thanks a lot for the sea anemone team for bringing us along and thanks to Gun Kiat and Yikang for taking the time off to come. Thanks GK also for driving us back and forth.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Morning at Chek Jawa

Team Seagrass was out this morning to monitor the seagrasses of Chek Jawa. Though I was a one of their member, Siti kindly permitted my request to allow me to do my own things for my project. Thanks Siti for your understanding, sorry if my absence has caused any inconvenience.

Indeed today was rather challenging because the tide was receding when we came in and the team has only about 1 hour to quickly finish all things before the tide covers the shore.

First things first before the tide comes back is to catch a good view of the entire CJ at a 0.2m tide level at 7:10am. Ran up the observation tower because there was a long list of things to do today in a short one hour. Panting and sweating, the sunrise has made it all worthwhile.

Purpose of doing this: to compare the view with the one from Google Earth and monitor for any sandbar movement if possible. Good to continue this for a long term period over years.

Next stop is to the coral rubble to start taking salinity tests from the extreme south to extreme north of CJ (CJ is big!). Met up with Ria who was checking the site out. Took a quick snapshot of a dead fish washed ashore.

There were many carpet and peacock anemones doing well there between beacon and house no. 1 jetty.

I did not have the luxury of time to search for animals but this sea star appeared near my footing. Thought it is a common sea star (Archaster typicus) but after showing Ria, she corrected to me this is Luidia maculata which is eight-armed and its the first time both of us saw this at Chek Jawa. Horray! CJ is recovering, this is a good sign.

The underside of the sea star with pointed tube feet.

Quickly, went to the other parts of the shore to take salinity test and also took this photo of the hardworking Teamseagrass team in action from afar.

Siti shouted to me when I was at the extreme north, I thought she needed some help urgently so I ran over. Found out actually she wanted to tell me tide's coming in, so time to go. However, I still have quite some stuffs to do, so tried to finish as soon as possible.

And I ended up leaving CJ by the mangrove side again since the tide has already came in by a lot when I finished :-)

And we gathered at House no. 1 to do some washing of gears and ourselves followed by a fabulous breakfast at a cosy spot facing the sea, prepared by Ria. Thank you!

Thanks also to Andy who kindly picked me up near my home.

Left early with Jingkai. Sorry couldn't be there with the rest to the boardwalk.

Can't wait for next Teamseagrass trip at Cyrene!

Monday, July 9, 2007

6th July 07- Chek Jawa Transect Day 2

Good morning, good morning and good morning! :-)

Though physically tired-out on 3rd consecutive day of Chek Jawa working trip, this priceless and magnificient sunrise made the start of the day worthwhile. This time, though 3-4 backed out last minute, I am so thankful that Geraldine and Kian Wah agreed to come back again to help after much persuasion. Geraldine was down with fever and sore throat somemore. I feel really guilty! Everyone is very important to the transect because it is large scale, across 500m, not 50m. Joining us that day were Gerald (came back too), Yujie, Shuyi and Lester.

Believe it's a rare occasion for them to catch a nice sunrise.

How can we forget to capture Ubin with the beautiful sunrise? It's like a typical postcard shot, in Singapore somemore. We are still blessed with these wild places in this urban city.

After gathering a lot of feedback on why we did so slowly and a whole night of re-evaluation and re-writing of protocol, we wasted no time on the second day. At 7am sharp, we left Changi, and again we saw the friendly female driver. Nice to be able to have a morning chat with her in the van as she recollects how Chek Jawa was when she lived there years ago.

Upon reaching CJ, we promptly picked up our stores from House no. 1 (Thanks Choon Beng for arranging it) and headed straight out to transect startpoints. After giving a short and sweet intro and demo, we started nicely at 8am. My plan was to finish transect 1 and 2 by 9am and transect 3 and 4 by 11am.

Here we have the first garang team setting up the transect line for transect 1. It comprises of Yujie, Gerald and Shuyi.

And not forgetting the second garang group, with Kianwah, Geraldine and Lester!

As you can see, the mud is not fun to treach across. This photo features team 1 in transect 1. The other team in transect 2 had more not-fun-at-all mud spa. KW and Lester's shoes came off so many times that they had a lot of difficulties and trauma. In the end, they took not 1 hour as expected to complete 300m of transect 2 but a whooping 2 hrs 10 mins!!!!

So do not underestimate terrain..haha.

Being so much off schedule AGAIN, I was rushing people to work harder and faster for the last two transects like a madman. Haha. This is because the tide was receding very quickly. Even my bag was flooded in minutes when I left it at sandbar. And this datasheet fell out during state of panick and it became drenched....gosh.

I am so thankful that Shuyi is much more composed than me giving a much reassuring smile that I shouldn't worry too much because God will help and is in control. (Photo by Yujie).

And when things go wrong, it's time to improvise! The marker couldn't write on the quadrat labeller (top left photo) anymore and here we have a brillant idea. We shall have a human labeller with hand signals showing quadrat number, and KW has the honour to do it. What a cute and classic collage we have here :-)

Here we have a lovey dovey horseshoe crab. (photo by Geraldine)

And we are glad to encounter a carpet anemone near the sandbar area. Chek Jawa is recovering, slowly.

I was walking quickly between transect sites and saw this hairy seahare threading. A first time spotting in Chek Jawa. Everytime we visit there is always something new.

Miraculously, we managed to complete transect 3 and 4 in 45minutes time! Thank God. I was pleasantly surprised that though work was done so quickly, team 2 managed to lay out their transect line almost perfectly from start to endpoint! Wow.

Everyone was so so so tired that I had to force them to smile for this finally-its-over photo! Haha... be inspired by them ok? They work really hard.

The day ended with washing up of equipment and the same old story of unwinding entangled tapes for an hour. Thanks for your patience guys.

Thank God for perfect weather. Thought of planning transect on Sat, glad its not. Because on sat, there was thunderstorm and heavy rain in Chek Jawa during opening of boardwalk. Imagine that happen and we'll never finish work.

We are glad the transect was done. Everyone made a difference! Here's me, Lester and Shuyi.

Geraldine and Gerald. Sorry Kian Wah and Yujie, no close up photo of you both because you both left earlier. Haha.

Thank you so much to all who paid sweat and injuries and illnesses to help this project. Other than the endless appreciation to Kian Wah, Gerald and Geraldine for coming faithfully twice, also thanks to Lester for being so friend to come, Yujie for coming though I don't know you at first and Shuyi for putting your 101% effort to help.

Till next time!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

5th July 07- Chek Jawa Transect Day 1

On an early morning, many of us were found at the jetty of Pulau Ubin, an island of rustic charm.

We were out to do transect to survey the biodiversity at Chek Jawa, to monitor the recovery and recruitment of species after a mass death this Jan. And this is not a one-time event, it will be for a long-term monitoring.

Geraldine took this photo of the resident CJ dog at the mangroves upon our arrival at Chek Jawa.

Here's the classic shots taken by Robert. I was trying to go through the landward side towards the northern CJ. However, there was a big drain that separates the path. Thus, instead of endangering friends, we went down the mangrove to cross. And most of us were trapped in the mud, yes to their horror. Haha. Sorry Kian Wah for traumatising you.

Here's Geraldine looking amused at poor Kian Wah. Looks like a shortcut is not always the good thing. (photo by Robert)

And upon reaching the site, we immediately got started with the setting up procedures, wasting no time. (Photo by Robert)

And here we go....... garang warriors.

Geraldine captured this shot of me running across sites because there was seriously little time to do things in the intertidal area. Sorry if there were any careless trampling.

I wasn't taking any photos because there was no time. Geraldine managed to capture this swimming anemone which I have not encountered before in CJ.

Another of Geraldine's photo shows a very nice zoom at Changi from CJ.

It seems that horseshoe crabs are quite frequently seen these few days. Many of us were marvelled by it.

This sea pen was found drifted by the waves.

This is the quadrat along the transect line which we will make an analysis of what can be found at Chek Jawa at this point of time.

In all, we accomplished very little on the first transect day because the methods were too tedious and time consuming to perform. Furtheremore, the heavy rain poured while we were struggling to do what can be done.

I had 7 helpers this time (many more than last time 4 helpers doing 6 transects in a day), we only did the two easiest transects. There was only one gal-Geraldine.

I really wondered at that point of time how can we manage to finish the 4 harder transects the next day. Furthermore, the second day has more gals. Worry creeped me, and anxiety was uncontrollable. For more on how the second day of transect turned out, stay tuned to this blog!

I want to thank....

Yikang for coming the second time to help with the transect. You have been waking up at 4.15am for both days. Furthermore, you were rushing for an assignment to be submitted on transect day.

Geraldine for coming despite being down with fever and sore throat. Thank you for your selfless efforts and incredible help. You worked as hard as those who were not sick.

Robert for coming upon Siyang's request with the Semakau volunteers. I believed the gang learnt a lot from you along the way.

Kian Wah for the really good help you offered along the way. Sorry to make you go into the mud so deep. Thanks for your help really.

Gerald for immediately volunteer to help when realized he no need to go lab. Instead of taking a good rest at home, thanks for sweating it out at Chek Jawa.

Zhangyi for being so friend to help me! It's amazing how a violinist and a promising musician work for nature, doing a scientific survey.

Last but not the least, the veteran Khairul for coming back to help. He is the only person who have done transect with me during May and coming back. Haha. I am touched when we were tired out and soaked in the rain and I was apologising to him for such a state, he told me to not apologise because I did not force him to come, it was his choice. He added that it is still not a very tiring thing to do transect and it really heartened me.

Thanks also to my supervisors, though didnt come, but for their priceless assistance and help. Thanks Siva and Dr Peter.

Thanks to the Nparks help, esp Choon Beng.

Will update on day 2 soon yah... I have to go take a well deserved rest.. am tired out now.