Monday, November 12, 2007

Labrador Mangrove/Berlayar Creek Bay

Managed to get the boss to let me use a little hard-earned off-time to rush off to Labrador Park today. The tidetable showed a 0.3m tide at about 6.15pm. Same as the day before when RT and SK were checking out reef building materials 'thoughtfully' left behind by the SP Project Team at the pier end of Labrador.

First thing I noticed when I got to the newly opened park extension (towards Keppel Club) was that there was someone (in green shirt) else who beat me to the mudflat...only she was on the Club side in sneakers trying to get closer to the sticky chewy part of the mud. She turned back after a few brave and cautious steps...i guess realising that she would soon loose her sneakers to the mud if she persisted. Eventually, she made her way back to the safety of the Club path. It looked like she was looking to do some exploring on her own and she had some paper with her as if she was taking notes.

The first thing you see after you get down the rock face opposite the Club is a green bundle. Looked like a bush of sorts but only much more dangerous than a regular bush. It was a thoughtlessly discarded bundle of barbed wire which had collected seaweed.

There was quite a fair bit of rubbish all along the estuary mouth.

There were quite a few abandoned rubber tires(which will take a very long time to disintergrate)

As usual, no coastal habitat would be complete without plastic...

and even plastic high on the trees...

The Keppel Club has a golf course which runs parallel to the back mangrove. And naturally, X amount of Golfers aren't that good and this results in a fair number of balls swimming away.
There are probably a few hundred golfballs all along the mangrove.

Coral Rubble :
There was also lots of examples of coral rubble here and there. Some small pieces and some large.

Just like the area opposite on Sentosa, there must be good coral growing somewhere along the seaward front. Needs more exploring. Despite having not very clear water, Singapore does have amazing variety of coral.

The MOTHER of all abandoned gill nets:
At first I thought there was just one abandoned gill net sprawled on the muddy-sand. But later managed to locate at least three such nets with the last one stretching all the way from the Club side and onto the Labrador Park side. This is the mother of all abandoned gill nets and the total length could be more than 50m.

Abandoned gill nets still keep trapping organisms like crabs which get entangled and drown or starve eventually. There are such abandoned nets all over Singapore and including at some protected areas like Sekudu and Chek Jawa and at other areas rich in marine biodiversity like Semakau, Changi and Kranji( just to name a few places). Horseshoe crabs are commonly found stuck and very dead although the Beachfleas did manage to save some on Sentosa some time ago.

Careless or reckless fishermen who do not take adequate care of their nets cause more biodiversity loss by not disposing of the nets properly.
The Govt should put in place restrictions on the use of such nets...or just plain ban the nets ... like chewing gum.

A little into the mangrove, one can see vertical long wooden sticks placed at opposite ends of the mangrove channel. These probably were used to hold the gill nets in place to catch everything which flowed in and out of the mangrove with the change of tides. The clip shows the crude but effective giant trap without the net in place.

Our already threatened Mangrove biodiversity stands little chance against such practices.


There is also seagrass (Halophila Ovalis or H. Minor) at the mouth of the mangrove estuary just in front of the Club. These looked very healthy. I could not see any Enhalus or Thalassia. Maybe a search further along the rocky shore below the magnificient bungalow may reveal other seagrass varieties. The back mangrove may also surprise us with Halophila beccarii as it is found close to mangrove areas (as in Sg. Buloh). [That would be an interesting find as even Seagrass Watch Australia were surprised by it when they saw it in Singapore.] I decided that the deeper part of the mangrove should best be tackled with an emergency pull-me-out friend just in case I got irretrievably stuck and the tide started to come in. I'd also have to duck the misguided gold balls as they flew into the mangrove from the golf course. The mud banks of the mangrove looked really sticky and chewy and I certainly do not want to get stuck in that alone without a backup plan. Another adventure for another day.

See :


for more info on seagrass.


Ria Tan said...

Wow, that looks like a most interest shore.

Alas, what a shame that there's so much rubbish there. And that gill tragic.

Thank you for sharing this.

Monkey said...

great post as always. i was wondering though - since when is Chek Jawa protected???? There may be some additional management rules in place but by no means is it protected under the law and surely, in your profession you would understand what that means right? Labrador on the other hand is what we'll call protected but sigh the sad state it's in.

sgbeachbum said...

"Protected" in the sense that NParks is managing Chek Jawa Wetlands and there is SUPPOSED to be NO FISHING there and people are free to remove the traps and nets found within the Wetlands area. Permission must also be obtained from NParks if any activities are going to be carried out at these places. (See and for more information).