15 May 2014

Rocky Shore Tour - Merambong Island, Johor

Two years ago, we signed up with SOS (Save Our Seahorses) for their Seahorse tagging trip.  It was an absolutely unforgettable trip in every way, one of our most memorable.

Recently Jo expressed interest in studying marine biology. We read up several books and came across seahorses. That sparked off memories of our trip, and we decided to join SOS again on a trip, this time to the Merambong island for their Rocky Shore tour.

2nd May2014- We gathered at the SOS meeting point at 6am for a short briefing before departing from the jetty. Reason for going early, I read, is to go during the low spring tide that makes the place accessible for just a few hours. We got to see really beautiful sunrise, and the island was certainly breathtaking in every way.

Pulau Merambong is a pretty small island, yet we took a few hours to explore because we stopped very often to study the amazing variety of marine life there. Otherwise, I think a half hour run would do it. What we found fascinating about the island was the island's mangroves, sandy beaches, and rocky beaches with terraced edges, covered with moss. You have to be there to see the beauty of it all!

About the island, quote from Wikipedia "The area Pulau Merambong is located within the single largest seagrass bed in the country. The bed extents from the island right up to the estuary of Pulai River in Johor.[1] Dugongs and seahorses which feed on seagrass made their home in the nearby coral reefs."  Well, sadly, there have not been recent sightings of dugong there, and sightings of seahorses around this island is now rare. There's a major development/land reclamation project going on nearby, right ON the seagrass bed, in the middle of the ocean, which would further destroy marine life in that area.  :( (Uncontrolled Development (Lim Kit Siang)

Thus, before further destruction happens, I'd highly recommend a trip to the island to marvel at its diverse marine life. Furthermore, all proceeds will help fund SOS in their fight to preserve marine life and the ecosystem there. Their main, urgent project currently is to  relocate seahorses to a nearby bed, in hope for their survival and protection from the land reclamation project.

Sunrise at the jetty.

We went out on a speedboat, and as we glanced towards Singapore, we saw the sun slowly peeking out, in bright streaks of red and orange. Above, the black clouds threatened to rain, but held back because of us. ;)

Arrival at Merambong island. Kids were first to jump off the boat. Lots of seagrass (different species too!), seaweed and marine life already where the boat was parked.

First thing, my kiddo found was a peanut worm. Well, I never knew about it, now I do. :)

Beautiful peacock anemones everywhere, in different shades of colours.

A little one came along with us this time, and here she is hand in hand with Nel, while Jo and friend have found something interesting.

This flower crab went into protective mode when it saw us. Not only did it put up its claws, it also tried jumping to pinch at us.

How lovely that despite the black clouds, there was no rain, but instead a rainbow!

Zoanthids everwhere in shades of brown, green and black. Touch them and they squirt or close. However, they are a kind of anemone, so I wouldn't recommend touching them, as anemones can cause allergic reaction in some people.

Zoanthids again.
We were fascinated by the iridescent colours of shells. We had to adhere to one rule though, "Take NOTHING back from the island" as shells will slowly dissolve, releasing calcium carbonate back into the ocean, so we were told by Adam Lim, who's taken over the leadership role at SOS.  (Also found this article about why we shouldn't collect shells.)

Sand-sifting starfish. Found this interesting info online "Sand-sifting Stars have a rather interesting reproduction behaviour - males re often found stacked on top of the females, and the pairing may last for up to 2 months before the eggs and sperm are released into the water. The reproductive organs do not meet, and hence this behaviour is termed "pseudocopulation" - in other words, "fake sex". This behaviour apparently increases the chance of fertilisation though."

Approaching the rocky shore, covered in soft moss.
Beautiful terraced ridges with bright green moss. Kids tried avoiding stepping on moss and aimed for the rocky bits. Can be slippery so take caution.

Close up of carpet anemone, seen here out of water because of low tide.

A tube worm.Children found these beautiful and fascinating. They pop back in when touched, or when a shadow is cast over it.

The hubs, searching for interesting life,

Lots of sponges here.

There were many tide pools, and we found one of this. Sadly I didn't hear what this beautiful "cup" is called.

A fluorescent brain coral. We were told that this would look spectacular at night with the right light.

The younger grabbed a sea cucumber too tightly and it of course vomited its sticky guts out onto the kiddo's palm. (Note---we all borrowed shoes from SOS, if your team is huge you'd have to bring your own, as they have a limited number of pairs. Wearing the right pair of shoes is important to avoid getting cut by sharp shells and oysters, and also so that your shoes won't go floating away or get stucked in mud!)

Crossing the terraced rocks with Adam as our guide.

This is where I thought was the most beautiful spot on the island.A very beautiful view indeed!

We were told that with a really sharp eye, one might spot an octopus between the rocks. I don't know how the kids did it, but they spotted a teeny weeny one, amongst the hundreds of tide pools. This one clung on and refused to swim off.

Biscuit Sea Star

Yeah....so... if you're in the area, visiting Lego Land, or on way to Singapore, sign up with Save our Seahorses  to go on one of their trips. They are just 10 minutes from Lego Land. We did go to the seagrass bed again to look for seahorses, that will be a different post. But seeing how fast the land reclamation is going on, I'd say, GO quickly, before it's all destroyed.  :(   

Quote Adam Lim, Project leader of SOS "Merambong island is still there and untouched (*for now). The one that got destroyed is Merambong seagrass shoal (almost everyone mixed them up) As for the status of Merambong, SOS is currently considering its position and we may have to cease all activities beyond September (*unconfirmed)."

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2014



gail said...

Martha, this isd wondefful! I can not believe Nel is so grown up.

gail said...

Sorry about the typos!

Divoo said...

Wow! What a wonderful trip! Loved the pictures of the sea creatures, the anemones, the shells... everything is so beautiful! Very interesting and there's always something to learn from your posts. Like why we shouldn't collect shells. :)

I was traveling so I'd been off the blogs since almost a month. Need to catch up with everyone! :)

Michiko Johnson said...

You went of speedboat Singapore
You saw the sun sloly out in bright of red and orange and black clouds threatened to rain the Awesome photo
held back for you!
Lots of seagrasi defferent spelies too and marirll.
First thing your kiddo found was a peanut worm well you never know about it now You do!
Beautiful peacock anemones everywhese in different shades of coloaes,
I like to see with Nel and Jo and friend has found a lots of intersting And me too Thank you to see Dear Martha!
Have a lovely day!

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