Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cephaly, Fidderly and Tape Flowery at Semakau

It was a rather hot day today as we journey to Pulau Semakau for another intertidal survey session. The team had visited this part of the shore a few months ago on National Day.

We passed by quite close to the fish farm next to Semakau. There is a barge right next to the fish farm loaded with stacks of bags which may be fish food. On the barge (right side on the photo), there seems to be a large rectangular metal container used for incinerating things. I could see smoke coming out of the rectangular container and smelled something being burnt.
Anchored barge with stacks of white sacks.
Neatly constructed shelter
The structure of the fish enclosures in this fish farm is very different looking than the northern fish farms.
Fish enclosures.
Upon landing on the shore, Ivan spotted a cuttlefish about the size of my palm. It was not easy to get the cuttlefish to show its tentacles.
Side view of the cuttlefish.
Cuttlefish tentacles.
Chay Hoon spotted a small cuttlefish among the seagrass blades. The seagrass meadows provides small shelter space for growing animals.
Front view
Side view
Ivan was a great observer today. He also spotted an arrow-head spider crab (Menatheius sp.)
Arrow-head spider crab
As the team made their way to different parts of the shore to check, I headed towards the river mouth to explore. Along the way, there were patches of very long tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides). I used 'very' because most of the tape seagrass we monitor and usually see are rather short and burnt at the ends.
Very long tape seagrass
What's more exciting about these tape seagrass is that some of them releasing male flowers! It is so tricky to photograph the male flowers as they are small and white like tiny styrofoam bits. The camera tend to over expose the flower.
One male flower of tape seagrass.
There are no magical powers involved to make these male flowers stand. One end of the male flowers of the tape seagrass is hydrophobic (repels water), which allows the flower to 'stand' upright on water surface or even wet fingers.
More flowers on tape seagrass blade.
I think the male flowers looked like tiny standing teeth.
I have also started noticing bare spots on the epiphyte (small plant which grows attached to another plant) covering the seagrass blades. Animals feeding on the epiphytes?
Feeding marks?
As I head nearer to the river mouth the habitat changed from a sandy, seagrass meadow to a slightly muddy substrate with breathing roots sticking out. I am approaching the mangrove area.
Pneumatophores of Sonneratia tree
By the banks at the river mouth, it is stunning to see marine animals settling comfortably. There were clumps of tape seagrass on the river bed. As I was bending to take a closer look at the marine life on along the bank, a pair of eyes looked back at me.
"What interesting eyes you have."
It was the Pearl conch (Strombus turturella) looking at me.
On the water surface there were a few pygmy squids (Idiosepius sp.) swimming around.
Pygmy squid
There were also some individual giant carpet anemones (Stichodactyla gigantea) along the bank and they can be found next to the rock wall slope on the bank.
Giant carpet anemone
And some yellow-banded damselfish (Dischistodus fasciatus).
Yellow-banded damselfish
As I walked further up the river, the tranquility of the mangrove slowly reveals itself to me.
Where the river flowed from.
On the rather firm mangrove ground surrounded by some Sonneratia and Rhizophora trees, the orange fiddler crabs (Uca vocans) are out busy feeding. They are very sensitive animals and requires patience to photograph during daytime.
Male orange fiddler crab
Female fiddler crabs (how many can you spot?)
How many fiddler crabs can you see here?
The dead mangrove tree provided a lot of details for artistic shots.

An eagle flew past.
Brahminy kite eagle?
The roots system of the Sonneratia tree is not as simple as you think.
Sonneratia tree root system
Back to the sandy shore, I came across two upsidedown jellyfish (Cassiopea sp.). One was "upsidedown".
Upsidedown jellyfish
Upsidedown, Upsidedown jellyfish
As the sun begins to set, it was time to leave the shore.
Sunset on the Semakau's shore
This probably marks our last trip for the year till about next March as the tides are not low enough for us to visit our shores.

Posts by others on this trip:
James with photos on his Facebook.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

More than 160 kg of rubbish found on Pulau Ubin shores [English news report]

Following up on the Chinese news report about the coastal trash on the Nothern part of Pulau Ubin, Channel News Asia and Today newspaper reported about the same news in English. My friend has updated that on the same evening the Chinese news clip was broadcasted, the English news also reported about it with a separate video clip.

In case you have missed the videos or did not read my previous post, here are the videos

Channel 8 News (Chinese)

Channel NewsAsia (English)

Here is the news article accompanying the English video clip:

SINGAPORE: A recent clean-up of the beaches at Pulau Ubin led by Outward Bound Singapore saw more than 160 kilogrammes of waste being collected.
Volunteers found fishing nets and abandoned barrels among the usual plastic bags and bottles in the rubbish deposited at Pulau Ubin's northern shores.
Chua Li San, head of character and curriculum development at Outward Bound Singapore, said: "We don't know what is actually being contained in those barrels. Is it petroleum or is it some other petrochemical waste?
"The fishing nets... we don't know if any fishes or birds will be trapped by the nets.
"Is cleaning the beach the only solution? We need to do something more extensively... to educate people."
Fishermen said they usually bring their rubbish to the collection point at the nearby Marina Country Club and added that some of the waste could have floated over from kelongs at the opposite shores of neighbouring countries.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority said it is an offence for fish farmers to dispose waste into sea waters.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Coastal Trash at Northern Ubin [Chinese News Report]

A few days ago, Ria wrote a blog post about fish farm trash found and removed from the northern shore of Pulau Ubin despite the coastline being lined with security fence. The cleanup activity was coordinated by Chua Li San from Outward Bound Singapore. Officers from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) were invited to view the situation from the seaward side. You can read more about from Ria's blog post here.

Today, Mediacorp's Channel 8 evening and night newscast reported about this situation and interviewed a few fish farms nearby.

Here is the news clip from Channel 8 news' youtube channel.

For the benefit of my readers who do not understand Chinese, I have translated the content of the video. It is not 100% translated but I tried my best to translate as accurately as possible the main points covered in the news report. I also did the Chinese transcribe of the video.

Translation (Coastal trash at Northern Ubin)The northern shore of Pulau Ubin is often seen littered with large amount of trash. In the most recent cleanup event, volunteers removed 165 kg of trash within a day. News reporter found out that among the list of items removed are abandoned fishnets and chemical containing plastic drums. These items may pose threats to and damage the ecological environment.  
Otter rolling around on the sand, heron resting on the fence. However, oil drums, styrofoam boxes and plastic bags are littering all around. Outward Bound Singapore (OBS), who regularly organises coastal cleanup for the public volunteers, commented that such sights are common.  
Interviewee (OBS): 
Just two weeks after the cleanup, we found a refrigerator here. Why are there still oil drums present? Why are there still items used by the fish farms found here?  
In the nearby fish farms, a fish farmer commented that the fish farms dispose their trash in the marina country club nearby. As for the oil drums, it is possible that they were either not securely tied or dislodged by the strong waves.  
Interviewee (Fish farm): 
During presence of strong waves, the ropes securing the drums may break, resulting in the drums to be displaced and float out. The direction in which the drums float to depends on the direction of the wind.The wire fences on the security barriers are old and damaged with holes. At high tide, if the trash is floating near the holes on the fence, they will be washed through towards the shore.  
The fish farmers also feedback that sometimes during strong northerly winds, trash from the kelong of neighbouring country also gets swept in the direction of Pulau Ubin. Volunteers have noticed fish trapped and killed by abandoned fishnets along the coastline. Disposed plastic drums are found to have contained chemicals.  
Although OBS and public volunteers have access to this Northern shore on Pulau Ubin to conduct cleanup sessions, it was not enough to resolve the root cause of this problem – a measure to control those who discard trash illegally or those who are irresponsible in their trash management. It is unknown, at the moment, the kind of marine damage or pollution these trash can cause. Personnel from AVA and NEA visited this area last Saturday (5 October 2013) to conduct some checks. AVA emphasised that it is an offence for fish farmers to dispose their trash into the sea. Currently, no one has been fined for such offence.

I'll be glad to update this translation should you have better translated sentence(s).

Seems like the fish farmer made it sound so easy for the floating trash to just pass through the broken security fence during high tide. I am sure that some of the items removed from the shore could not float. So how did these items get onto the shore then?
I do have some doubts about the accuracy of information in this news report.

What about you? I welcome you to raise any questions you might have from this news report. Just drop me a comment with your name.


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