Sunday, 5 March 2017

Focused on the oil spill in February

In February, the Restore Ubin Mangrove (R.U.M.) Initiative joined hands with NParks to work on a community effort for long-term monitoring of Ubin mangroves following the 300-tonne oil spill in the East Johor Strait in January 2017.
The Ubin Community working on long term monitoring after oil spill in East Johor Strait
Phillip Lim organised a boat survey of the entire Pulau Ubin coastline, while Prof Dan Friess shared advice on how we can  monitor the impact on mangroves. Sea Angel volunteers and Rachel continue to document and check on oil spill impacts. The February R.U.M. walk was fabulous!

On 3 Feb, Phillip Lim led a boat survey of the entire Pulau Ubin coastline, so we could get a first hand look at the impact especially on mangroves, and to decide on a long-term monitoring programme. Thanks to Ng Siak Juay for mapping our trip.

We started on the Southern shore of Pulau Ubin (facing Singapore). Here, oil impacted Sungei Puaka and Pulau Ketam. Fortunately, Sungei Jelutong was spared.
Checking Southern Ubin, 3 Feb 2017
The most badly affected mangroves were those at Sungei Besar. There was a wide band of oiled roots on the mangroves at the mouth of the creek.
Mangroves at Sungei Besar, Noordin Beach, Pulau Ubin after oil spill in East Johor Strait
Mangroves have special breathing roots near the mud surface. If oil coats these roots, the mangrove trees can't breathe and this will affect their health. One of the early signs are lots of yellow leaves on a tree. But some mangrove trees do seasonally have all leaves turn yellow or orange and drop off, before a flush of green leaves return shortly.
Mangroves at Sungei Besar, Noordin Beach, Pulau Ubin after oil spill in East Johor Strait
So one possible sign of oil spill impact is to look out many trees of different species with yellow leaves.
Security Fence on Northern Ubin after oil spill in East Johor Strait
Here's a video clip of the northern leg of our trip.
Checking Northern Ubin, 3 Feb 2017
Oil coats trash and one way to reduce impact without harming mangroves, is to remove the trash. So it was great to see that clean up is still going on at the Northern shore. Here's a video clip of the clean up we saw on the shore.
Clean up of oil at Northern Ubin, 3 Feb 2017
Dr Karenne Tun treated  us to lunch after the trip! Thank you! We discussed and now have a plan to work together to keep an eye on and gather data on oil spill impacts on mangroves at Pulau Ubin. Hurray!
Photo by Ng Siak Juay.
On this trip: Dr Karenne Tun and Cheo Pei Rong of National Biodiversity Centre NParks, Robert Teo and Choi Yook Sau from Ubin NParks, Prof Dan Friess from NUS, Phillip Lim and Ng Siak Juay from Sea Angel, Dr Beverley Goh of NIE, Oliver from Republic Polytechnic and me, wildsingapore.

More about this round-Ubin oil spill survey on the wild shores of singapore blog.

Kayak survey of southern Ubin mangroves

In February, a small team of volunteers also had a look at the oil spill impact on mangroves in Southern Ubin by kayak.
Photo by Victor Toh.
Here's photos of their trip by Ng Siak Juay.

With more photos by Mohammad Juhari.

And more photos by Victor Toh.

Rachel Quek who is leading a National Geographic film about Pulau Ubin and R.U.M. called Ubin, Sayang, also shared her gorgeous images and story about the oil spill that impacted the people and mangroves of Pulau Ubin.

Celebrating World Wetlands Day at our February RUM walk

World Wetlands Day on 2 Feb celebrates wetlands such as mangroves. We grabbed this opportunity to share about the awesome mangroves at Pulau Ubin and the work of the Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative there. We had a great time with fabulous people who joined the free monthly mangrove walk! Lively students from the College of Alice and Peter Tan spelled out R.U.M. Cool!
Thanks for joining us: Lexus and friends, Heiri who lives on Pulau Ubin, Pushan who knows all about mangroves, and Yen Leng from Water Ventures and of course I wouldn't have made it without Mohammad Juhari, the best RUMbler ever! And of course, Uncle Lim at no. 42 Pulau Ubin for letting us gather at his shop before and after the walk.
Photo by Mohammad Juhari.
I'm so grateful to Pushan for sharing the wonderful stories and photos of plants and kampung life with all of us. Also Heiri for sharing about living on Pulau Ubin, so inspiring. Alas, he had to leave early to help his family.
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative monthly walk, Feb 2017
Mangrove trees produce 'baby trees' (propagules) in humungous quantities. They grow rapidly when they land in a correct spot (not too low where they drown) or too high where they have to compete with land plants. This is why Ecological Mangrove Restoration begins by focusing on creating the correct conditions for mangroves to grow. Instead of planting mangroves, R.U.M. hopes to help Mother Nature do the planting.
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative monthly walk, Feb 2017
Alas, abandoned fishing nets and trash often entangle mangrove roots. Among R.U.M.'s focus actions is to remove such litter from the mangroves before restoration begins, so that new mangrove trees can grow in a clean environment.
Abandoned fishing net entangled in mangrove tree
We stopped by to chat with a fisherman at the mangroves. Mangroves have lots of social and economic functions including providing fish to fishermen as well as fish farmers. And ensuring good water quality which is so vital to fish farmers.
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative monthly walk, Feb 2017
We stopped at kampung homes to admire the colour flowers growing at the gate. What makes Pulau Ubin special is that it is the last offshore island in Singapore with residents who have lived there all their lives. Ubin's culture and heritage will be an important aspect of R.U.M. It is important to R.U.M. that the community who live on Ubin and who love Ubin have a part to play in mangrove restoration. Our hope is to restore Ubin mangroves not just ecologically and biologically, but also their social and cultural role and value to the community on Ubin and beyond.
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative monthly walk, Feb 2017
Thanks to Lexus and team for making our walk such a lively one! They came to observe and understand R.U.M. as a civil society action group and came prepared with good questions for the participants as well as RUMblers. I am very impressed.
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative monthly walk, Feb 2017
More about this walk on the wild shores of singapore blog.

Check up the R.U.M. facebook page for updates on the R.U.M. free monthly mangrove walks.

R.U.M. volunteers also help out with mangrove cleanups, mangrove surveys, mangrove outreach and lots more!

Here's more details on volunteer opportunities with RUM, requirements and how to register.

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