I was so excited yesterday. I'd joined TSG ever since it started and been to all the CJ's sessions and several others. However, whenever it comes to P. Semakau, it always clashes with my other commitments. Not this time! And to many others who already knew me well, it came as a surprise to them that it's my virgin trip to the island too!
Andy kindly gave me a lift from my secondary school where I was having my usual Scout meeting. Then we went to Nparks BioD centre to pick up the equipments, and of course Siti, Wei Ling and Nor Aishah too. Andy had volunteered to arrange for this trip and that included buying the food so we stopped by International Plaza to grab some 'Polar' pastries.
Upon reaching Marina South Pier, most of us were there. As we were boarding, there was still one person missing - our dear Dickson... Well, eventually he made in time, but not without any consequences. He was later assigned to the furthest site and had to blog on the trip for the TSG's blog.
The boat ride was pretty long - longer than expected. Once I set foot on the island, it felt very different from others. It was very peaceful and the scenery was amazing from the pier.
In two groups, we took turns on the van to entrance of the forest. We then had to trek through the infamous 'mosquito forest'. Indeed worthy of its name...
But once out of the forest at the coastal region, the sight is surreal, considering the island is a landfill for our rubbish.
We were then to arranged into the groups for the survey. My partner was suppose to be Marcus and we were allocated Site 1, the nearest. When I thought I would have a easy time, I was wrong... Ria 'kicked' Marcus and I out. Then when Siti was arranging the rest, Marcus told me to lie low and perhaps we might escape from being allocated then we can happily explore. "Marcus!" Siti shouted and there goes Marcus into Site 2 and soon after I followed in his trails... My new partners were then Gaytri and coincidentally, Jerald, who was with me for CJ previously.
Site 2 was termed the lagoon, which I soon knew why... I had the honour to lay the transect, so off I went running the tape. Step by step, I soon start to sink deeper into the ground. Right in the middle, I was submerged up to my thighs... It reminded me of the mud sinking days where I did snake hunting with Chee Kong in Sungei Buloh, it was all mud and you can see where or what ya stepping on. But you can't see anything here at all except the overcrowded seagrass and macro algae... So have to watch where you step.
Well, I was not the only who consistently get stuck or sunk into the mud. Gaytri and Jerald did a fair job at that too. And of course, our dear Siti was not spared from the soft mud.
Site 2 also have many species of seagrasses, which made it even harder. A single quadrat could easily consists of four different species. Eventually, we managed to get used to the ID and finished almost an hour later. And off we went for the most awaited portion of the trip, shore exploration.
Enhalus acoroides (tape seagrass) was in bloom. Plenty of male flowers could be seen floating around. They were release from their bracts. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the female flowers or I'm just blind perhaps...
In the area where sponges and corals were, a few critters were found.
Like this upside down jellyfish. Due to the presence of the symbiotic algae in its tentacles, being upside down would be optimal for sun exposure required for photosynthesis.
Not one but two Discodoris boholensis were spotted. I've previously seen this at Sentosa.
I spotted this bi-valve (alive) but have no idea what it is. Doesn't look anything like what I have seen before. Anyone?
Dawn then spotted this. It's a type of sea slug but yet to be ID-ed. Anyone?
Ron then pointed this out to me. It's a sunflower mushroom coral. I've seen mushroom corals, but this has extended tentacles.
Last but not the least, Chay Hoon spotted this just before Siti yelled at us to gather back. It's a Denison's nudibranch. Rare one it seems, as Ron have never seen it on Semakau before.
As the tide rose, we returned back to the main road. This time round, no van for us so we had to walk back. Boy, it was long, but the walk allowed us to take in the beauty of the place and a chance to talk to the other seagrassers.
Although this is the last trip for the year, but I'm already looking forward to another wonderful year ahead!
More on the trip at Ron's and TSG's blog.