Dec 23, 2007

Taking out more nets: Pulau Sekudu

Yet another boatload of determined Naked Hermit Crabs and friends headed out this afternoon to clear more nets. This time to one of our favourite sites: Pulau Sekudu.
Pulau Sekudu lies just opposite Chek Jawa (you can see the white Chek Jawa beacon on the left corner of the photo) and has gorgeous natural rock formations, a little patch of mangroves, fabulous seagrass meadows and reefs.
Pulau Sekudu means 'Frog Island' and it indeed has a frog-shaped rock on it (on the right corner of the photo above). You can see how low the tide is; the dark colour on the rocks mark the mid-water line.
Here's a closer look at the beautiful rock formations on Pulau Sekudu. Joseph Lai has a lovely article about these rock formations at Ubin on his
House No. 1 on Chek Jawa just lies opposite Pulau Sekudu. Thus Pulau Sekudu is part of the Chek Jawa ecosystem and any damage to it may damage Chek Jawa as well.
A quick briefing by Andy after we land, and we're off to clear the island of dangerous litter. As far as we know, there has never been a mass clean up of Pulau Sekudu.
There is a huge mess of years of accumulated abandoned driftnets entangled among the small group of mangrove trees. Despite the age of the driftnets, they continue to kill as long as they remain on the shore.
Dr Chua gently removes netting from this crab that was very much alive and thus must have only been recently entangled. The nets were full of shells of less fortunate crabs.

While one bunch of volunteers tackle the nets at the mangroves, another heads out to the huge boulders in the middle of the island where fishermen usually hang out.
They find more abandoned driftnets. Just as heartbreaking is the ugly graffiti that is found on almost every surface of these gorgeous natural rocks.
What possesses an intelligent lifeform to leave their name on wonderful works of nature? I don't understand it. And John had to leave his name twice on the same rock...huh?
In the centre of the island, campers have left lots of signs of their presence (thought not of mind). Litter of all manner, and marks of campfires.Even the top of the tallest boulders are not unscathed. We find lots of large litter there.

Suddenly, someone yells "Monitor lizard in a net!" It was still alive and struggling badly in a net that was wedged in a narrow crevice between the boulders.We had a hard time trying to get the poor little animal out. Finally, it came out after it gave a good chomp on Terry's finger. I was too shocked to take a photo of this incident. The guys managed to gently get a hold of it. And it was eventually cut free of the drift net.
Here it is, all free of netting. It scampered away amongst the boulders when we released it.

As we head out the southern shore of the island, we noticed two people on the shore.
Andy talks to them and they turn out to be kayakers from SLGC.

One of them had a bucket full of soft corals (photo by Andy). We made them return the soft corals. But who knows how often or how many people come to remove marine life from this beautiful island?

Meanwhile, Joe hauls out several huge fish traps.
And the guys remove yet more abandoned nets in the middle of the flats.
As we were preparing to remove all the rubbish, a fisherman came up to the island.In his boat, he had a bucket full of flower crabs, a large catfish and two Noble volutes (photos by Andy).
He was later also seen in the distance with driftnets in the waters near Chek Jawa.
A permit is now required from NParks to land on Pulau Sekudu (see this word document on the NParks website) and the area indicated on the map above is now known as “Chek Jawa Wetlands”, is managed by the National Parks Board (NParks), under the Parks and Trees Act 2005 and the Parks and Trees Regulations 2005. Let's hope that this means fewer visitors, poachers and fishermen.

It was a hard job getting all the rubbish to the boat pick up point so I didn't get a chance to take a group photo. But here's Terry with the growing pile, just to show how much of it there was.And James, with some of the 'special' finds of the day.
Besides the huge stack of nets, there was a car battery, the base of an office chair, and the bones of an umbrella. There were also yards of thick rope, weird cables. And this is just some of the trash on the island. We had to leave as the tide turned, the rain threatened, and well, there just wasn't any more space on the boat for us and the trash. There was THAT MUCH TRASH!

Thank you to the team who did a great job today: Terry and Jane, May, Kah Chine, Ivan, Joseph Lai, James, Dr Chua Ee Kiam and daughter. And to Chay Hoon for making all the permit and boat arrangements.

If only people who visit our shores exercised more restraint and disposed of their trash properly, this sort of situation wouldn't arise. Sigh.

More links
Thanks to Ivan! Who submitted this post to


juanicths said...

woh~ great job on cleanup part 2 ^^ at least there was a chance to rescue all those trapped animals over at Sekudu... compared to those dead fish we had at labrador...

DreamerJuly said...

All we beach bums want for Christmas is to find less nets/rubbish or none of them on our shores.

Hai~Ren said...

It's been a wonderful weekend, helping out in my own little way. And that monitor lizard was really lucky; if it hadn't struggled when I walked past, we probably wouldn't have found it!

If only everyone who uses our shores and waterways could be more considerate and responsible.

Submitted some photos and a write-up to STOMP, and recommended this to I think we need to constantly remind people about what's going on, otherwise they just won't care.

And I noticed that this post got linked by a... porn site??! WTF?


ria said...

Thanks Ivan for the support!

And July and Jun too!

Today, Joe and I released yet more fishes from abandoned fish traps on Chek Jawa. Sigh.

Re the odd site link, I think the 'wild' elements mislead people a bit.

Never mind, this is a good chance to spread the awareness to circles beyond the usual :-)

Monkey said...

is terry ok?! he still has his finger right? :o hope he's alright now :)

merry christmas beach bums, fleas and other assorted organisms :)

i've been visiting the intertidal area here too! will post up pictures

Hai~Ren said...

November: Don't worry, Terry had nice thick gloves on. But it was a heart-stopping moment when the lizard lunged and was dangling by its jaws from his finger. =O

juanicths said...

anybody interested in organising a part3 at CJ? we had a couple of drift nets (though not as humongous and scary as the ones we saw and cleared at Berlayar) one at the south side near the floating pontoon and another at the north side near the fence

ria said...

A Chek Jawa clean up is very much needed indeed. Yes, let's do this!

Hai~Ren said...

Yes, let's do it!

Now, if only we could find a suitable tide timing......

beachbum said...

The cleanup didn't just end at Sekudu. There was another saga following the bags we brought back to Changi and deposited at the outside corner of the ferry terminal thinking that NParks' cleaning contractor would pick it up the next morning...only they did not and the local fish association security guard raised a fuss when his 'office' door could not be opened because of the bags...until the Tuesday(Christmas day) morning when Kalan from NParks Ubin extended his assistance to help move the bags away from the ferry terminal and closer to the footbridge.

All well and sorted out...except for this rash I've got from handling the nets. Must have gotten stung by some hydroids. Arrrgh!

Winsor said...

hi there, this clean up missions sounds really interesting, can anyone just join or will i need some special requirements?

ria said...

Glad to hear of your interest Winsor!

Well, the 'special requirements' are that you will need to have a strong heart (much of what we encounter can cause much dismay to see first-hand), a strong back to haul out the stuff, willingness to get really dirty to dig and drag it all out, and a commitment to work safely.

Anyone who meets these 'requirements' are most welcomed to join us.

We need all the hands we can get. There's A LOT rubbish to haul off our shores.

Drop me an email and we can chat more about this?

Ria please put "Attn Ria: Removing trash" in your subject line, so it gets past my very aggressive spam filter.

Talk to you soon!

jaS% said...

hi, im jaslyn, currently a year 1student in NUS. =) i happened to chance upon this blog because i visited, and i just wanted to ask if there is any way i can join u guys in cleaning up chek jawa...

so glad that there are people like u guys around. have been very upset over various occasions where ive seen people picking up marine life...

please do contact me! =)