Mangrove education at the Festival of Biodiversity 2013

It is been a while since the Squad blogged about mangroves. We have been pretty much busy with our (mangrove and non-mangrove related) work but we are back with a bang in the second half of this year. The blog will be updated more frequently this year.  We will start off with our first blog of the year (yes, you read it right!) with news on the participation of the Mangrove Action Squad in this year’s Festival of Biodiversity held in Vivocity

Last year (2012), the Squad was delighted to be part of the Festival of Biodiversity which was held in Botanic Gardens. We were pleased to be manning a mangrove station as part of the Marine exhibition section and it was great fun talking to the public about mangroves, from the mangrove species identification to mangrove conservation. The team was even more ecstatic when we were able to meet Singapore President Dr. Tony  Tan in person and gave him a little briefing about the mangrove specimens that were put on display.

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This year around, we were  part of the Festival again and  it was held in Vivocity shopping mall last weekend. The event attracted thousands of people who were interested to learn more about Singapore’s natural heritage, mangroves included.

With a more interactive display feature of our mangrove specimens, the Squad was all fired up to educate the public on our lovely muddy habitat.  We had placed interesting fact sheets and figures on display for the public and also displayed fresh mangrove leave specimens and propagules. Of course, we can’t leave our mangrove animals hence Ria(Wild Singapore) and Ley Kun (from NHC) was kind enough to loan us dead horseshoe crabs for display.

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BPB2Bj_CEAASvYrMelanie, one of the Squad’s volunteers had great time explaining to a family about the Nipah fruit (Picture courtesy of Ria Tan)

DSCF3236Ayesha, a Masters student from King’s College London who is currently conducting her mangrove fieldwork in Pasir Ris Park also shared  her expertise in educating the public about mangroves in Singapore (Picture courtesy of Ria Tan)

DSCF3307Old timer Squad, Wei Kit educates a visitor about the seeds of a Nipah fruit

‘Ice-kacang’ lovers were pleasantly surprised to know that the ‘attap-chee’ from their  favourite dessert  actually, were actually immature seeds of the mangrove palm tree, Nipah palm!

These seeds are harvested only from the fruits of the mangrove palm and boiled with sugar syrup, giving it sweet but yet hard-jelly texture which we love to eat in our local dessert. Now that’s another reason to conserve mangrove forest in Singapore.

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A frond of the Nipah palm (below),  the Nipah fruit containing immature seeds (left) and a seedling of the Nipah were on display fascinated the Vivocity shoppers

As the more people came to visit the mangrove station, a lot of them were intrigued by the long Rhizophora propagules. Some visitors thought they were mangrove roots, while other had guessed them to be drums and swords! The Squad loves the imagination of these visitors but we have to reveal the functions of the odd-looking propagules of the mangroves. Here’s a Youtube link on the how mangroves propagate to learn more about mangrove reproduction:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EXSWc9d1WY

Propagules of different shapes and sizes (Picture courtesy of Ria Tan)

1000739_537339919659044_489012873_nThe Squad’s Rick explaining what is a propagule and how mangroves reproduce to some individuals of the public

Another interesting observation that the Squad has learned is that horseshoe crabs are oftenly mistaken by the public as sting rays. Most of the public thought that the crabs were the rays, because they had similar silhouettes but we were there to correct them. Sting rays do not have hard caraspace unlike crabs. Moreover, the tails of the horseshoe crabs do NOT have barbed stings unlike the crabs. More facts about of the horseshoe crabs in this link: http://www.ceoe.udel.edu/horseshoecrab/funfacts.html

petting-pool-with-stingrays-and-horseshoe-crabs-las-vegas-united-states+1152_13622885814-tpfil02aw-22979Note the differences between a sting ray (center of picture)  compared to  horseshoe crabs (top & bottom of picture)

Nevertheless, children and adults  alike were enthralled by the physical characteristic of this living fossil!

DSCF3263Joanna, one of new Squad members had fun educating some individuals on horseshoe crabs

There were also other interesting activities held by other marine groups and the Toddycats from Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. It was fun working hand-in-hand with some many biodiversity lovers and event volunteers, knowing that we have played a part in educating the public about the amazing natural heritage of Singapore.

DSCF3282The interactive  panels, one of being a mangrove panel , were used as a interactive gameplay with children. Children had to paste  pictures of animals that matched their natural habitats!

DSCF3300The Toddycats volunteers kept themselves busy with a continuous crowd of people looking curiously at their wet and dry specimens from the Raffles Museum

DSCF3280Ria, the Queen  of Intertidal captivates young children on the animals and plants on our shores!

In all, the Squad had a great time educating the public about mangroves in this year’s Festival. We hope to be part of the event again in years to come!

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About Mangrove Action Squad

Welcome to the Mangrove Action Squad (MAS) blog. The squad is very passionate about monitoring and conservation of mangroves of Singapore and we love to share our thoughts on the subject of mangroves.

Posted on July 17, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. i am happy to attend meeting. how is it possible

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