Archive for May, 2009

Okays, a post that was due a long time ago! Figured you guys wanted some pictorials by now. :D

“Yes, against the better judgement of all the rainy days in this current season (it was february then!), we went to Mandai Mangroves and Mudflats* (MMM). So it rained and it poured cats dogs monkeys and elephants (and for Kim, giraffes too). Still though, we had a fabulous time (: (or at least, I know I did!)


High tide water line can be seen on the propped roots of the Rhizophora, and a solitary seedling amongst the rest of the mangrove trees.


MMM littered. May not look as bad here, but it was really quite a load from where we were looking from. Big trash, small trash, all trash. This is where I’d talk about the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), which is held annually, and all over the world!

And yes, Singapore has it too! Just do a simple internet search and you should be able to find information on it. Institutions and the public join and gather forces, moving to coastal and mangrove areas to do a clean up and weigh-in on the types and amount of trash collected – e.g. 43 tonnes at XYZ Beach, with 36,453 straws, etc.

Great stuff to do it, a big eye opener and again, awareness that hits people when they go ‘oh my, i didn’t know this much rubbish floated out here!’. Grace and I joined Siva one year and we did it at Pandan Mangroves. The year before that I was at Sungei Buloh. Both very different sites to work at, with different litter and characteristics.

Sometimes, TV sets and refrigerator frames are found as well! Tyres are common too, and more dangerously, hyperdermic needles and rusty nails too. Gunny sacks, PVC piping, all sorts of rubbish you can imagine!


Horseshoe crabs (HSCs) getting caught under fishing nets and lines, being unable to reach food for sustanance and water to keep its book gills moist for breathing, it died! Decomposing smell wafting up. :(


Rescue mission got underway with people snipping off abominable abandoned nets and lines and releasing some still-alive HSCs – yay!


With Malaysia opposite us, wading migratory birds way out in front of us, mud on us, us beside us, and static electricity making our hair stand as we walked around, it was really quite an experience!

1. Always wear booties, coz Wincent didn’t get to wade out
as far as we the booties people could, quite a waste!
2. Wear fitting longs – Anne’s longs were loose and the mud was
constantly sucking it down. Haha. Needless to say, not a nice experience.


Our brave team happily muddied, headed along Sungei Mandai Kechil.


Daniel exploring the river bank at top left, Wincent smiling to himself at top right, Grace mischievously taking a photo of unsuspecting Kim at bottom.


More pictures of what it was like.  Siva’s in the orange cap,
Anne in the black shirt, Holly at bottom right picture.

3. Bring a proper poncho – not a groundsheet. Kim only realised her ‘poncho’
was actually a groundsheet when it started to rain, buggers.
4. Bring a poncho. Daniel didn’t have a poncho so used a garbage bag to cover
himself at first, and when that failed, he used it to cover his bag.


Wasp, Sea Holly, Two Collared Kingfishers, Peanut Worm, Onchs, Sandpiper. Look for the bird! Tip: 2pm direction if centre of photo is centre of clock.


Creatures! :D HSCs, mudcrabs, thundercrabs, all sorts of plants.


Seedling’s been barnacled!



Huge trees keeled over because of ground/mud erosion that’s happening more and more nowadays, what with the increase in wave energy resulting from increased activity along the shoreline, as well as damming of rivers preventing sediment flow into estuaries for deposition. That’s Evelyn delicately walking past the tree.


Photo of desolate-looking, dying mangrove trees at low tide.



Almost the core team of Backyard Biology, we’ll be having another field trip soon! This time to Tanah Merah side, where we’ll be exploring the area for the first time. Oh, and Daniel’s back in Toronto now I believe. Evelyn and I will be visiting him very soon when we leave for environmental biology studies at University of Toronto!”

*Don’t know about MMM? See an earlier post on 19th Feb. (:


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I know, I know. Many weeks have passed since the last post, and its mostly due to converting all of my time to studying, researching or re-activating my social life now and then with friends.

So here’s a quick one.

To save animals, put a price on them – its an article on a radical idea, which is actually so crazy its the kind of idea that gets people (especially me) thinking and puts my mind out of the box so I can actually think radically too. Read it here. I love this kind of stuff. Not that I agree with the idea, I think there’s some serious flaws with it, but I like that the idea makes me think. Hope it does for you too.

Having taken classes on Tropical Conservation, many issues have also been brought up with regards to conservation. Just a quick post on certain concepts and ideas off the top of my head that have to be kept in mind when we are talking about conservation and leading lives with conservation at our core.

There is an article called “When swordfish conservationists eat swordfish“. It’s a good read. You might be able to get it by googling.

So the general idea is when a conservationist doesn’t practice what he preaches, and doesn’t do what he advocates – its like an environmental activist who pollutes the earth and doesn’t bother to save water or electricity. Think about your footprint – calculate it with an online calculator. Think about your lifestyle, and if and how that is aligned with what you believe in.


That conservation is not a pure subject, like many other things in the world. Pure meaning it only consists of one category of subject, of course. Call it science, call it social science, call it environmental or even philosophy related. It is all of, and much more than these things.

Keep in mind that conservation, without a social, environmental, political component, cannot work.

It’s interesting. People have to have their basic needs taken care of before they can move on to other things. It’s Maslow’s pyramid, period. Culture, environmental activists, choices even, only come when we have our basic necessities met.

So don’t question humanity’s selfishness in wanting to secure our future first – the thing you should question is why we think that economics should be mutually exclusive with the environment? We are slowly being proven wrong on that one, and that is, I believe, the way to go.


Zoos are temporary. They are not an alternate habitat, they are conservation centres, and Noah’s Arks at best. Look, no one’s disputing that they are great for education here. They are fantastic tools – but that’s all they are. A tool, a mechanism for education and awareness, but never, ever a replacement for what belongs in our natural environment, for what has been there before we removed them from it with our influence.


Cryo banks and seed banks, where sperm and egg of animals and seeds of plants are stored to ‘secure’ its future are great ideas. But like zoos, its dangerous if we think they’re going to be our future. They can’t be.

Think: if animals cannot mate naturally any more, and we have to do fertilisation for them, is that natural? If an animal’s habitat is no longer around, and cannot be resurrected, so what if we can artificially produce more of these animals?


Beware of crunching numbers. Telling the public that we have 100 hectares (ha) of land designated for nature is only meaningful if that land is not fragmented. If they are taking 100 patches of 1 ha land ‘polka-dots’ and adding them together to produce 100 ha of land, that’s not meaningful at all.

It’s blips of land that not only reduce the integrity of the land, it also brings in accessibility by humans which can mean poaching, besides having the famous edge effect that alters conditions of the fragment such that environment of the fragment starts to degrade.

Made small enough, don’t be surprised if it degrades to nothingness. All while we say we have 100 ha of land set aside of nature.


Again, like how conservation is a weaving of many subjects and many characters, the change in food chains/webs, ecosystems and environment is compounded.

Think about what animal/plant is affected. How its life history is changed. Does it migrate? What breeding pattern does it have? What does it eat, and what does it get eaten by?

For example. Parasites have primary, and secondary hosts. Bacteria, they’re bad or good in our eyes, just harmful or not to the animal. Migratory birds and fishes, and their prey, be it crustaceans or caterpillars. Climate changes and pollution affecting breeding times, seasons, development – mozzies breed faster or slower, some frogs and molluscs are starting to have pseudo penises and weird number of limbs and development.


Though I’m not done talking about it, I’ll continue another day. Don’t let all of this frighten you into a state of inertia and shock.

Instead, take this as a sign, a challenge for us, the current generation to rise up to and take action. What’s most important, is that we take action. We can sit on our butts the whole day and talk all about the climate change and how animals are dying around the world – but without action, nothing really will get done.

Start simple. Use less things. Then you need to reuse less of them, and recycle even less of them. So start with reducing.

Spread. Blog. Talk to people. Write to your MP, if you’re in Singapore, and your mayor or city council if you’re elsewhere. Highlight issues you think are pertinent, important.

Learn more about whatever it is YOU are interested in. You don’t have to be interested in the environment just because everyone else is – go find out about what’s interesting to you. Knowing about the environment is good – learning about something you have  a passion for, is sustainable. Mebbe you like amphibians. I met a 13 year old girl today who likes rodents, and learnt only today that squirrels, beavers and capibara, saying ‘Cooool’ as she heard it.

We have a choice. Always. And putting yourself in the seat of choice and responsibility means you have power – it means you are the driver, and you decide today, right now, where we go.

Your actions affect someone and something else. You are powerful. You choose. Believe that, and do something good with it.

The world will be better off. (:

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