Sunday, 11 July 2010

conservation of our reef

I have just recently signed up to go along these shore and reef trips with a group of conservationists. I don't know if the group has a name, but the lady in charge of this is Ria. She has been doing this part time for about 10 years now. Although she is a full-time civil servant, she spends most of her non-working time (and money which goes towards the charter of boats) exploring our shores and marine life, documenting them, educating the public as well as the relevant government bodies, creating awareness and thereby saving some of our delicate coral reefs. Yes, you may be surprised to know that we do have quite a few reefs surrounding our little island. We may not be an island paradise with crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches, but our waters do support a rich biodiversity of marine life. Ria was one of the pioneers involved in creating awareness about Chek Jawa. Back in the day, nobody had heard of Chek Jawa, let alone know where it is. Due to the fact that it is situated at the remote north-eastern tip of Pulau Ubin and only accessible during the lowest of tides, Chek Jawa is considered a gem worth saving as it supports many unique ecosystems such as a seagrass lagoon, coral rubble, mangroves and coastal forest. After much intense lobbying between conservationists and the relevant authorities, the Government had in December 2001 called off all land reclamation plans. However, this period isn't indefinite as the "deferment" was only granted for a period of 10 years. This means that the Government can still go ahead with reclamation after 2012. Today, Chek Jawa is managed by NParks, who conducts free guided tours of the area during low spring tide periods. No one knows what will happen or what plans the Government has in store for this treasure trove, but i'm sure by creating the necessary awareness, Chek Jawa, together with other reefs around the island threatened with reclamation will be something worth saving. Next week, I will be going on my first trip out to sea. This will be a night trip to the Sisters Island to observe the extent of coral bleaching. As the lowest of tides occurs in the early hours of the morning, we will be required to gather at our RV point at 3am. I know it's early but it's exciting, plus I get to see sunrise. Knowing me, I will definitely end up with loads of photos. The next few trips will involve going to places like Cyrene reef and various other "submerged reefs" around the island. *images courtesy of Wild Singapore

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