Jun 17, 2007

Under the boardwalk, down by the sea

Yesterday I joined a group of Chek Jawa enthusiasts to have a look at the nearly completed boardwalk there.

From the beautifully restored House No. 1, we should see Pulau Sekudu or Frog Island (where Kok Sheng and friends spent the morning). The old jetty has also been rebuilt.
As the tide was coming in, we quickly headed down to the shore to have a quick look. The 'finger' that pokes out of the boardwalk to the sand bar is a pontoon that moves up and down with the water. So visitors are never far from the bottom.

Alas, the sand bar was still bare of carpet anemones, where usually we might find one at every few steps. I saw only two living anemones, one normal coloured, another a sickly yellow.

The tide was coming in fast! And the little Soldier crabs (Dotilla sp.) were busy getting ready for the high tide. In seconds, with a quick spiral of building big balls out of wet sand, each little crab sealed itself safely into its burrow.

As we headed back to the shore, we came across large expanses of the very rare Beccarri's seagrass (Halophila beccarri). In Singapore, we've only come across this tiny striped seagrass on Chek Jawa! Elsewhere, this seagrass is also rare.

It was rather disturbing that the usually thick patch of Ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata) near the shore was now a bare patch. Although there were more of this seagrass towards the seaward side of the lagoon (right photo). It appears that Chek Jawa is only slowly recovering from the mass deaths early this year due to heavy rainfall and flooding.

It's time to check out the boardwalk, which circles the coastal forest, through the mangroves and has a look-out tower.

The planes roar past on their way towards Changi Airport. Isn't it amazing that right in the flight path of a world-class airport, is a wonderful natural habitat like Chek Jawa?!

The raised boardwalk takes us past hordes of fiddler crabs. Still busy on the shores, feeding and annoying one another before the tide comes in.

The boardwalk takes us through the back mangroves, with very tall Nipah palms, lots of mud lobster mounds and other intriguing mangrove life.

The highlight is of course the tower. A monitor lizard was spotted on a coconut tree and much argument made about whether it was the common Malayan water monitor or the rarer Clouded monitor.

The tower takes us high above the canopy for a breath-taking view of the coast and the surrounding forests.

Heading back out for the shore, this time on the boardwalk as the tide comes all the way in.

Past the floating pontoon over the sand bar, now right in the middle of the water. The threatening weather finally hits us.

This little shelter opposite the coastal forest is a perfect spot to wait out the shower. And to observe the coastal forest where jungle fowl and other creatures live.

As the weather clears, we head back to House No. 1, past the Chek Jawa Beacon.

The boardwalk snakes along the coast, allowing everyone to enjoy this unique and scenic location even during high tide.

The access routes to the boardwalk have been purposely left natural, strewn with fallen fruits, flowers and leaves, and bordered by wild plants.

If you like it exactly the way it is, please write in and say so. Otherwise, people who write in to suggest that these be paved over and 'weeds' removed will get their way! This situation applies to our other wild places too. Agencies managing these places are often under pressure by people who want things more 'civilised' while there is no counterweight of expressions by people who like things exactly the way they are.

Among some of the special sights along this boardwalk are the very rare Seashore nutmeg (Knema globularia) (left) and the strange Ceriops tagal (right), a rather rare mangrove tree which has squarish seedlings.

The brightly coloured fruits of Rotan tikus (left), which means Rat's Rattan in malay, festoon the mangroves. Among the plants were pretty butterflies. With the boardwalk, there will be lots more to a tour of Chek Jawa than just marine life!


Samson said...

So bloody kiasu!

ria said...

Yes, I admit, we were a bit excited to see the new boardwalk :-)

YC said...

eheh this samson guy seems to have limited vocab. Whats so kiasu about filming shore stuff? its beautiful, im sure many other people would agree. WE do the hard 'kiasu' work so that folks like you can enjoy it all in the comforts of cyberspace. so, as a gift, enjoy the pics. Cheers, samson!