Thursday, February 21, 2008

February Transect Day 1

Time passes fast, and its time for the last series of transect for my study at Chek Jawa. This time, we are doing something special with the help of Yikang and his team. On top of doing our usual quadrat monitoring, we are also testing the sediment type of each quadrat location so as to better understand the substrate types of the study area.

On a sunny afternoon, friends from all over the place come together at Changi as we set off for Ubin. It was a weekday yet many took leave or special time off to volunteer for today's transect.

Arriving at the jetty of Pulau Ubin, we proceeded towards Uncle Chu's van. We also noted by the rocks by the sides of the jetty are covered with layers of mussel beds which has been persisting for quite some time.

Reaching Chek Jawa, we settled the logistics and off we went to the shore. As usual, July here is carrying the research in progress signboard which is important to inform the public of why we are down at the flat.

Day 1 of transect usually mean we will head north and finish the last 4 lines first. The greenish patch you see from this photos are the coverings of the algae on top of mussel beds.

After a mock up briefing, it was time to start setting up the transect line. And wow, this task was indeed challenging since the weather was extremely windy. The lines were easily blown aside and setting a straight line means lots of tug of wars.

Nevertheless, the garang team managed to set quite decent lines with the aid of the huge colour flags that ensured line of sight from the start points to the end points that were permanent. After a few rounds of trying out, most of us managed to figure the best way to lay lines with the windy condition, and hope these improvements can be of great use for day 2 later.

Meanwhile, while working, lots of Lesser-crested terns (Sterna bengalensis) can be found feeding and resting at the tip of the sandbar.

They are very shy, like most birds, and will fly off when I tried coming closer to them.

Flying higher and higher.

The tide was not very low but thankfully just sufficient for us to conduct the transect.

Unfortunately, Chek Jawa is too big to be sampled with justice over a short tide window period. This photo shows an example of a non biased sampling method that may not capture the animals we want. This carpet anemone was just a few centimeters away from our designated quadrat. If we just put the quadrat showing the carpet anemone, it will be biased.

Some of the other animals found include this small clump of mussels stick on the sand substrate instead of the usual hard ones.

These sandfish sea cucumbers usually start appearing when evening comes.

The seahare season was not over yet, and many of them can still be spotted.

Chek Jawa also is home to a rare seagrass, Halophila beccarii which was named after the intrepid Italian botanist-explorer, Odoardo Beccari.

More marine creatures: sea cucumbers, razor shell and sandstars.

Amazingly, I spotted a few dugong feeding trails like how Teamseagrass saw them during the mass death last Jan 2007. Dugongs are still present around Chek Jawa waters and indeed seagrasses are important food staples for them. It's fascinating how these trails appear during the mass death as an encouragement that life goes on and now towards the end of my study, Chek Jawa is indeed doing well recovering.

The teams worked hard and I am deeply thankful for their effort. This is one of the two teams with Denise, Ron, Siyang and Yong Jian (left to right).

Also, not forgetting to mention Pui San, Adeline, Jing Kai and July from the other team.

Here we have the geographer, Yikang, doing the sediment collection from the quadrat sites.

That involves digging out of a thumb size of substrate, which then we will bring back to the lab to test. More work.

Soon, the sun sets and it was time to leave.

Here's a last photo of July pointing to something in the cloud.

One more day to go...

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