Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pandan Mangrove field trip

This morning, the marine biology class with lecturers and teaching assistants were out somewhere in the southwest.

Isn't this Pandan reservoir? What has a reservoir got to do with marine biology?!

We are actually visiting Pandan mangrove organized by Siva. I really appreciate his effort in converting a classroom lecture on mangroves into a field trip. That's why we were all so happy today. In orange is our wonderful TA, Yujie!

Just at the reservoir itself, there is already life, I saw a monitor lizard or water monitor, too bad it wasn't photogenic enough to stay so long.

Distancing ourselves from the reservoir we are near the mangroves.

According to Siva, "Pandan mangroves is typical of the sort of mangrove strip that peppers several areas in Singapore, often escaping the public eye. Their presence is a footnote to a much larger expanse of forest that gave way to development. Thus these strips are all in close proximity with the urban areas that ate in to the original forest Although these are thin strips, they contain all of the symptoms of a mangrove ecosystem and are host to an an interesting diversity. Zonation inevitably overlaps in such small areas but can still be differentiated. Bordering Pandan mangroves is a clay-ey estuarine flat that hosts shorebirds and a different community of organisms from the mangroves."

To some, Pandan mangrove is special because it houses Api-api jambu (Avicennia marina) which is now thought to be only found at offshore islands like Tekong and St John Island. This rare mangrove tree that is considered endangered was not sighted by me though. Perhaps it is there and I've seen it, just that my mangrove id skill is still not there yet.

Nevertheless, I still got to encounter another mangrove plant that is considered rare also. This is called the Chengam (Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea) and what you see are the flowers.

These are its fruits. Chengam is a shrub that grows both in the mangroves and along sandy beaches. It has waxy leaves which reduce water loss through transpiration (A common feature for some plants found in the mangroves, along sandy beaches and coastal forests)

This plant also has durable wood which is useful for making small, hardy objects. Indigenous people are known to use the warm extracts from the leaves to treat stomach aches.

There also also many sea hibiscus with their pretty yellow flowers.

Unfortunately, one of our buckets started to float away but we have a hero to save the day!

Soon, we went more inland into another part of the mangrove.

At this zonation, we can still walk on the substrate despite the not so low tide. It was definitely an experience for many first timers down the mangroves. We saw many interesting organisms like snails, crabs, worms, mudskippers etc etc.

Not forgetting this TV junk! Which was later coined (in a corny fashion) as the water monitor.

All too soon, we completed our field trip!

What should one do while waiting for the bus to pick you up?

Take out your umbrella/big hat and start the anti-sun/glare/UV campaign.

Or embrace the nature by lying and relaxing on the grass, suntaning yourselves.

Or start talking to each other to exchange ideas.

I guess all of us enjoyed the trip and thank God for there is no rain. Nice first time visiting this special patch of mangroves.


aki-chan said...

omg Kok Sheng! i feel so ashamed of myself man.. u know so much more than me-i seriously din know what i was doin as the TA... ="= i'm sorry u guys got me as the TA! will try harder for the nxt prac.. :p

Unknown said...

Pls don't say that, we had a lot of fun! The facts I know are all from the mangrove guidebook, I'm still more of an intertidal person. Haha. Thanks for being such a cheery TA, I appreciate a lot that you explain many different facts and bits with Khairul who is not a pure-biology person :-)

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