Monday, 24 December 2007
The first game involved protecting an egg using recyclable materials, after which the whole art piece (with the poor egg hidden within the creation) was thrown onto the ground. The group whose egg did not break won the game. I hope the game made an impact on the undergrads about the usefulness of recyclable materials as much as the throw did on some of the eggs.
Throwing the protected egg...
The second game was a three legged race in which the group which filled 2 cups with the most marbles and water respectively wins. It was a tiring but exhilarating race in the ruthless late morning sun.
Simultaneous with the three legged race… hello doggie… (I WANT YOUR FOOD!! *woof)
After lunch, we set off for Chek Jawa in a total of 4 vans. Chek Jawa is situated at the eastern tip of Pulau Ubin. Chek Jawa escaped reclamation and preserved its natural state, hence enabling us and many other groups to visit its rich marine life today. We first made our way to House number 1 after a bumpy van ride. The house is so named because it is a house, and its address is number 1.
My guide then took my group to a board walk just beside House number 1. We spent quite some time there marveling at a whole ‘field’ of sea grass, weeds, trapped fishes, crabs, their molts and anemones. Something which I found particularly exotic was the self sacrificing nature of the male fiddler crabs. The males have an extra long pincer which is red in colour while females are a (relatively) boring shade of grey. This is so that birds prey on the males which are easier to spot instead of the females as the latter are rarer. How touching…
We then headed to another boardwalk which led us to the mud flats. There, we saw most of the marine life. It was amazing! We saw hermit crabs, tube worms, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, bristling worms, sea stars, two mantis shrimps, a moon snail, a nudibranch, a catfish and a carpet anemone.
You only see some of the hermit crab here. When you see a beautiful shell on the beach, don’t bring it home! It is the home of hermit crabs though they may not be in when you visit them.
See the tubes poking up from the ground? Those belong to the tubeworms. *shivers (I don’t like worms…)
The slimy and cute sea cucumber. It’s rather shy, it contracts and appears smaller when in human hands.
The Ferrari Seastar in action. It flips itself over very fast hence its name.
Those circular disc-like objects are the sand dollars. They are actually alive and the tracks you see are evidence of their movements. Sand dollars are actually the mermaids’ and mermen’s currency too.
I found the Chek Jawa trip educational and an eye opener. My knowledge of marine life is very limited, so I learnt quite a lot from this trip! I also hope that through experiencing marine life first hand, the participants learn to appreciate them more and do their part in saving nature.
For more photos of the other marine life, please visit http://s236.photobucket.com/albums/ff263/earthlink0708/Chek%20Jawa%20231207/?start=0
Monday, 29 October 2007
Dr Shawn Lum kindly agreed to come down and conduct this recce cum guided walk for us. A total of about 10 people turned up for the walk, a myriad of people from various nationalities (China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Singapore), but with the common interest to learn more about the biodiversity on campus and to share it with fellow students and staff as nature guides.
Among the trees that we saw was a saga tree. As we found out from Dr Lum, the red seeds of the saga tree are sometimes collected and given during Valentine's day as a representation of love.
Moving on, near the replica gate to Nan Tah, were two majestic trees, a Banyan tree (in the middle) and a Sea Almond (on the right). The actual Nan Tah gate is actually still standing, somewhere in Jurong West. In the past, between the actual gate and where NTU now stands was all rubber, and students had to walk through the rubber plantations to get to class.
We also found a few cycads planted in the garden. These trees have been around since ancient times, and are non-flowering (compared to similar looking, but much larger, palms, which do flower).
Below a Trumpet tree,
we found saplings of Brown Heart, Sea Almond, etc. Knowing that these trees normally do not disperse their seeds too far from the parent tree, the logical explanation was that there were bats that took the fruits from the other trees, returned to the Trumpet tree to eat it, and dropped the seeds onto the grass below, where the saplings germinated.
The seed of the Brown Heart looks like this (when dried)
We also found a few Kapok trees. Kapok is a cotton-like fluff that is found in the fruit, but is not strong enough to be made into thread. It was commonly used as fill in pillows/bolsters in the past.
There was also a rather big Hop tree, with distinctive purple flowers covering the whole canopy of the tree. These flowers were in fact individual buds.
We found a woody fungus growing out from the grass. It was pretty interesting as the fungus seems to have grown around the grass, with a few blades actually sticking out of the fungus itself.
Near the end of our walk, we reached a Yellow Saraca tree, with a whole gathering of Birds' Nest Fern below it. Very few flowers were in bloom at this time of year though.
Dr Lum indeed gave us alot of information during the short recce, too much to remember for one time. However, over the subsequent training sessions in December with more walks around the garden to familiarise ourselves with the flora and fauna there, we will slowly gather enough knowledge to be able to share our garden campus with others.
Friday, 28 September 2007
Thus far, we would not have achieved so much without the support of the NTU Administration. Particularly in this academic year (07/08), the NTU Administration has become more proactive in pursuing environmental initiatives. As a result, Earthlink is able to install recycling bins in all Halls and “green publicity” can been done on a larger scale. We look forward to further collaboration with the Administration and other student organizations of NTU to create a Green Culture on campus.
Saturday, 22 September 2007
At 745 am, we made our way there. Since we reached the place a little early, we had a small ice-breaking session while waiting for our tour to start.
Our guide was an experienced and enthusiastic volunteer who took us through the journey of plant evolution. She began by asking us to see the difference between the palm tree and a cycad right outside of the evolution garden. The cycad, though small in size, was much older than the palm tree that was twice its height. The cycads were a much older species of plants that was present even during the dinosaur period. So that was how we started our journey into the evolution garden.
Although the evolution garden is a relatively new area of the botanical gardens, there were many plants and interactive sculptures as it was set up mainly for educational purposes. Starting off with the mosses, we gradually moved to the taller ferns, cycads and lepidodendrons. We learnt many interesting facts along the way, like how some spores of ferns that were growing around a cave was used for camera flashes, how horsetails could grow back together if the broken pieces were put together again and many other interesting details of plants through the ages.
After the insightful tour, we headed to the national orchid gardens, a must-see when visiting the botanical gardens. We rested in the cool house after taking many pictures of the colourful and vibrant orchids, which were present in large varieties.
Finally, it was time for lunch. By this time, most of us were familiar with one another and we had a really enjoyable lunch at a food court within the botanical gardens. Overall, the trip was a fruitful one as we left not only with many things learnt, but also with a few more friends.
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Morning Gathering at Chinese Heritage Garden, a beautiful day.
Around 8:30 am, we reached Kallang Basin, and quickly began our work.
We are divided into group of 4 to finish our job. Among the four people one records the data and the other three collect the rubbish.
Some of us are discussing among the groups on dividing of tasks and a good strategy to finish their job.
Each group was given a log sheet to keep a record of garbage item for different categories like plastics, food and so on depending on the materials they were made of.
The data then will be sent to the ICCS for consolidation and further analysis. The analysis results then would be sent to the SEC, ENV, NParks, PUB, URA, MND, MOE, MITA, The Internet. Some of them even affected the policy making!
Volunteers are so eager to collect the rubbish that they even forget the safety of their shoes!
Although it is a tough job, many of our volunteers feel very happy.
Let's hear what they say
“I think the coastal clean up is quite meaningful for me because I can help protecting the environment in my own way. I can also do my part in taking the responsibility of the citizen of this country.”
“I think sometimes people are very selfish. They clean and decorate their house very well however make our natural environment very dim. The activities can help us be aware of the serious consequence of the rubbish pollution for the coast by looking out to the coast.”
The kids from German European School of Singapore
And we are not alone. there were other volunteers working with us to clean the coast. Some of our volunteers think this activity is particularly meaningful for kids like these. One volunteer said, “ I think this activity is especially helpful to the children for encouraging them to protect the coast and environment. The main duty of adults, I think, it is organizing the activity”
We found all kind of rubbish.
Here, we even found such big monsters!
Life is being threatened!
A sick bird
Our volunteers are also worried about the pollutions: “There is a lot of daily life rubbish. The creature in the ocean must have a very hard life. The problem might be very serious cause a lot of rubbish has been embed in the underground very deeply. There might be a lot of rubbish that we didn’t get.”
The whole activity end around 10:00 am . Despite the short during, we have made a great job. our Earth link volunteers managed to clean up around 100m of coastline and collect 45kg of trashes. While for the whole Singapore, the length of coastline cleaned is 1520m and the weight of trashes collected is 4109kg.
After our work,no more trashes!
Kallang Basin is selected to be one target of the events because of its economic, social and environment benefits। According to Chou L।M, The Singapore River and the Kallang Basin “form an important catchment covering one-fifth of Singapore's total land area। These waterways served important functions in the economic development of the country. The intense and varied uses however contributed to the gross pollution of the rivers.” He suggested the cleaning system of these area shall be implemented. Besides, National Environment Agency etc also have the following plans:
Kallang Basin is going to be a linear garden of the Garden at Marina Center is links the cultural core at the Esplanade Theaters to Kallang Basin.
In 2004, the Public Utilities Board publicly announced plans to construct a new downtown reservoir. It will turn Marina Bay and the Kallang Basin into a confined freshwater reservoir with limited access to marine transportation to regulate the water quality.
This event would promote the protection of Kallang Basin and thus help reach the above goal।
Saturday, 18 August 2007
We headed towards the ‘Green House’ which is located along the only road leading to the town center of Ubin. It is there where we met the Nature Guides that would be giving us a trail around the sights and scent that Ubin has to offer. We headed over to the information kiosk to begin our trail briefing.
Other than learning about the plants that grow on Ubin, we also had a chance to know a bit more about Singapore history. For example, there was the Gelam tree, which once populated a particular place in Singapore. Due to the abundance that place was later on known as Kampong Glam. The bark of the tree was used by the Bugis and Malays to caulk the seams of boats, while the timber was used to replace rotted hull planks and doubled as firewood. The fruit was dried, ground, and used as a type of black pepper.
The Trail ended roughly around the later part of the afternoon however, it didn’t end there. The organizers prepared a photo hunt around Ubin for everyone that attended. So the rule of the game is to take photographs of the various places around a certain area in Ubin. The places where clued by only a photograph distinct to that place. The clue was only helpful when the distinct feature was recognized easily, in many a times; we were just hoping to bump into other groups who already found the spots.