Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yes it can be done

I came across this quote from a friend's blog and I thought, no matter how hard the world is going to blame and challenge nature conservation efforts, as long as each and everyone who cared believes in the ultimate cause, anything could be done.

Don't give up guys! Allez!

If it couldn't be done

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't" but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, as he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one we know has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you'll do it

Monday, April 23, 2007

Remembering Chek Jawa

Today was transect day for CJ and we got down to work immediately after finding a way to go around the boardwalk which was almost completed.

Chek Jawa looked better and better every time we visited and it is clear that recovery from the mass dieoff is on the right track. Inspired by Dr Chua's Pulau Jong photo, I took this picture of Chek Jawa as how it looks like now.

Algae was prevalent so were the seagrass meadows, everything was very much alive!

The sun was blazing hot and the Seagrassers push on!

Some of us were doing the transect....

Some of us were busy filming...

The H. ovalis there are really HUGE!!
Some were even the size of my thumb!

After doing the transect, I ventured out to the coral rubble area and over there laid a huge H. spinulosa meadow

Amazing isn't it

An interesting sight I noticed is that there was a region where the seagrass were dried.
They weren't burnt but dry like dead leaves and were rather brittle.

And of course the carpet anemones are back and they sure look different from when I first set foot on CJ. I remember that I had always wanted to visit this place but either I was too busy or did not know how to register for the walks and ended up admiring pictures in the Ubin coffeeshops.
So the first time I was brought to CJ was during the orientation transect and it wasn't anything I expected it to be. It didn't even smell like the CJ I had envisioned at all. So as I did the transect, I couldn't help but feel a little sense of disappointment.
However, now that I've been there a few more times, CJ is opening its wonders to me again. And thinking back of the time I first saw it, I was filled with exhiliration that nature is so powerful!

We even ventured out to the beacon as the tide was up to knee level (for me)

Can you spot the juvenile halfbeak in this phtoto?

Wilson saw this crab holding on to dear life on a piece of driftwood.
It wasn't anything particularly interesting until....

Someone flipped the driftwood over to reveal a brunette in his arms! (or claws)
See, even crabs can be romantic

As the tide came in, all of us rushed to the shore before we got to swim
CJ is definately a lovely place

And on the way back to the meeting point, we came across this.
Siti was saying, "why need plastic bags? just take the whole darn thing la"
I guess some people are still reluctant to BYOB haha

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Coralline algae lines Sentosa

It was a very sleepy morning as I just alighted my plane from Shanghai and rushed to Sentosa for the TeamSeagrass transect. I was the first to reach the Ben and Jerry's and it was kind of weird to see Sentosa so quiet (it was just me and the guard there).

Anyway, we headed down to the transect area after waiting for NParks who were late as usual. The tide was quite high when we reached there so Shufen gave us a briefing on the random method we were going to use. We tried to wait out the tide by having some food but as luck might have it, the tide did not really go down. We then decided to explore the place instead.

One thing I realised at Sentosa which I did not see at the other places was an abundance of coralline algae growing on the rocks.

This is another growth form of coralline algae

Coralline algae are a type of marine algae that is hard, unlike your usual Ulva or Chaetomorpha because they deposit calcium carbonate into their cell walls. The reason why I am very interested in coralline algae is that they have key roles in reef building. When they grow in sheets coverig rocks and substrate, they deposit considerable amounts of calcium carbonate, sometimes even more than corals and thus constitute to reef growth.

Another reason why coralline algae is important to reefs is that they keep it from being washed away by crashing waves. When these algae encrust onto a substrate and builds on it, it forms a sheet that can withstand the strong currents of crashing waves that even the most rugged corals would be washed away. The coralline algae also forms what is called an algal ridge when they grow on the outer reef edge. This algal ridge will sort of cushion the force of the strong water currents and prevent the reef from being eroded away.

One last importance of coralline algae to reef building is that it works as the reef's superglue. This is an important role because if the sediment are not bonded together, fine sediment will damage corals when they settle on them. When coralline algae grows over a sediment substrate, it literally bonds the substrate together, creating a solid structure for corals to grow on and prevent any loose sediment from settling on the corals. The reef in this case grows via both the binding of sediment and the growth of corals.

Algaes that deposit calcium carbonate into their cell walls like Halimeda sp. generally also help in such functions in one way or another.

Talking about algae, I also noticed quite a few patches of what seem to be Chaetomorpha sp. or commonly called "speghetti algae". These algae are also quite different from the rest because it does not permanently attach itself to a substrate. If you'd notice, macroalgae like and Caulerpa sp. and Sargassum sp. attaches itself tightly to a substrate and would not get washed away in the tide. However, Chaetomorpha sp. is just a bunch of free floating algae that does not possess any structures like runners to attach to a surface. This led me to think, maybe it is an adaptation for them to maximise photosynthesis. I noticed that although they cannot attach to a substrate, they do get "caught" on rocks when their bunch of curly whirly strands act like some sort of velcro. They then stay there until the currents detach them and they go with the flow till they get caught at another rock. This, I think, allows almost 360 degrees of photosynthesis to occur since the bottom strands are shaded until they get a chance to receive sunlight when the bunch flips and turns in the currents when they are detached. I'll try to illustriate my point next time with pictures.

Anyway, Wilson the "worm guy" from NParks was also out catching, yes you've guess it, worms! I hope he won't mind me showing this pic of him in action trying to coax a Eunice sp. out of its hole.

Shufen even challenged him to find 3 worms for a lunch treat and guess what, Wilson overturned a small rock and using his chopsticks, picked out 8 worms! There were even more squirming in the sand!