What is TeamSeagrass?
Led by a small volunteer management team, TeamSeagrass currently has about 200 volunteers from all walks of life that regularly monitor the seagrasses on Singapore's shores. Started in 2007, TeamSeagrass is a collaboration with the National Biodiversity Centre of the National Parks Board and international Seagrass-Watch, the largest scientific, non-destructive, seagrass assessment and monitoring program in the world.
Why study seagrasses in Singapore?
Watching grass grow may seem dead boring, but it's fascinating when it's Grasses of the Sea! Seagrasses, flowering plants that live on the intertidal, are a critical marine ecosystem that allow a wide variety of marine life to flourish. These underwater meadows support tiny creatures that form the base of food chains across other ecosystems to large animals like the dugong. Changes in seagrass health and distribution can have a large impact on marine biodiversity. Thus seagrass health is an indicator of broader shore health including positive impacts such as from restoration or management efforts, or early warning of impacts from coastal works, pollution and climate change. TeamSeagrass data is submitted to NParks for a better understanding and management of Singapore's seagrasses and shores, and to Seagrass-Watch thus contributing to global understanding of the world's seagrasses. Here's lots more about the seagrasses of Singapore.
What methods used?
TeamSeagrass uses the same Seagrass-Watch method that is currently used over 300 sites across 17 countries. The method is simple enough for ordinary people to carry out. On-the-job training is provided and Seagrass-Watch audits the data collection regularly to ensure valid and consistent data.
Where are the study sites?
The Team gathers data from the large seagrass meadows at Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau and Cyrene Reef. The Team also collaborates with Merck (Tuas site) and Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls' School for (Sentosa and Labrador sites).
What are some of the recent outcomes from TeamSeagrass?
Data! TeamSeagrass work provides good baseline data especially for three important Singapore marine sites: Chek Jawa, Pulau Semakau and Cyrene Reef. This data, publicly posted on the Seagrass-Watch site, allows seagrass workers in Singapore and around the world, a basis for management and further study of Singapore's shores.
Outreach! While it would have been possible to monitor Singapore's seagrasses with a small team, it was decided to establish a volunteer base through TeamSeagrass to give ordinary people the opportunity to see first hand, some of Singapore's best shores. This also allows ordinary people the satisfaction of making a difference for Singapore's marine biodiversity. Besides monitoring, TeamSeagrass volunteers also participate in other outreach efforts such as public exhibitions and in giving talks. TeamSeagrass also achieves online outreach through this blog and the TeamSeagrass Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page.
Who can join TeamSeagrass?
If you are 19 years or older, and you love the outdoors and want to learn more about our shores, you will be most welcomed to join in the effort. You will get a hearty 'Halo-phila' from the rest of the team (it's seagrass humour... which we hope you will appreciate, eventually).
I am not a scientist, can I join? Will there be any training?
Yes! At the beginning of every trip, there will be a briefing where the scientific methods are explained. Ordinary people should be able to pick up the methods. First timers will be partnered with another volunteer who is more experienced and can guide on the finer details. With practice, everyone should be able to help out with the monitoring. Just tag along with the team and learn. Kind of like on-the-job training.
How do the tides affect our work?
We can only monitor when the seagrasses are exposed at suitably low tides. "But aren't there two low tides a day?" I hear you ask. Indeed there are. But we need a super low tide when the seagrasses are well exposed. It is only during such super low tides that we can more easily take a closer look at the seagrasses. Here's more about low tides in Singapore on the wild shores of singapore blog and on the wildsingapore fact sheets.
Will the monitoring be done only on weekends?
Monitoring will be done when tides are suitable. Unfortunately, the tide waits for no man (or woman). So sometimes, monitoring dates will be on weekdays. So just sign up for those dates that you can come. Here's the current monitoring dates.
What time of the day will monitoring be done?
Again, the tides decide these for us. In Singapore, suitably low tides are in the morning from around Apr-Aug and in the evening from Oct-Mar. Here's the estimated timing for the current monitoring dates.
How often must I help out?
As often as you can! Practice makes things easier. Since we plan to cover several sites, going often also means you get to explore more places. It is really up to you and your schedule.
It can, however, be disruptive to you and your team-mates if you come very irregularly. You might then get out of practice which may affect the efficiency of the team and your enjoyment of the event.
So do consider your own availability before you commit to the team.
Ideally, you should be able to commit to several dates within a period of a few months for this to be enjoyable for yourself, and useful to the team. Here's the current monitoring dates.
Where are the monitoring locations?
We will be covering Chek Jawa and Pulau Semakau which have vast seagrass meadows and a spectacular variety of seagrasses (and marine life). For Cyrene Reef, priority will be given to regular Team members (come at least 4 times a year) AND who have done at least one Semakau monitoring. This is because the meadows at Cyrene are very rich and places on the boat are limited. The Team also supports efforts by other groups to monitor the seagrasses at Labrador, Sentosa and Tuas. More about the monitoring locations, how to get there, etc.
Where can I find out more about what goes on during a monitoring session?
This blog has lots of stories of our past adventures. Just go through the entries to get a glimpse of what we do and see during a monitoring session.
More about our monitoring locations and how to get there. And what to prepare for a monitoring trip.
How do I sign up for TeamSeagrass?
Here's how to sign up!
What happens after I sign up?
We will contact you and put you on the TeamSeagrass yahoo mailing list.
You have to be on this mailing list. Updates about TeamSeagrass activities will ONLY be sent through this list. We are unable to send emails to individuals. The yahoo group also has lists of past messages about activities, and a database of activities that you can sign up for.
What do I have to prepare for a monitoring session?
Here's all the details!
Can I bring my family, my kids and friends along for a monitoring session?
The monitoring session is organised to carry out the work. You will be busy doing this work and it will be difficult to give attention to both the work and your family/friends. Your fellow TeamSeagrass members may also not be comfortable having non-team members who are not familiar with our processes and safety protocols. In addition, we are deeply concerned about impact to the very habitats that we are trying to monitor. Thus, I am sure as someone who is concerned about the habitat, that you will agree the number of people coming on each trip should be limited to those carrying out the work.
Who can I write to for more information?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have other enquiry.
For a more enjoyable trip, bring your family and friends on the guided shore walks below.
Kusu ReefWalk with the Blue Water Volunteers
Chek Jawa walks with the Pulau Ubin NParks volunteers.
St. John's Island with the Tropical Marine Science Institute.
Pulau Semakau via the National Environment Agency.
The Naked Hermit Crabs also conduct ad hoc walks on various shores including Sentosa, and a tour of the Chek Jawa boardwalk.