Thursday, April 4, 2013

Southern Expedition (20 May - 7 Jun 2013)

Last night, Dr Tan Koh Siang shared much anticipated details of the Southern Expedition!
Like the recently completed Northern Expedition, this event brings together 45 scientists from Singapore and around the world, for a frenzy of field trips including intertidal walks, diving, dredging and trawling! The Southern Expedition will be based at St. John's Island.

One of the most exciting activities planned for the Southern Expedition, is to survey the Big Deep Hole in Singapore's seabed. There is a part of the seabed that is more than 200m deep! It's somewhere near St John's Island, and kind of Singapore's 'trench'. But since it's not very long and is more circular, it's more proper to call it a Big Deep Hole. What will we find there?! So exciting.
The Expedition will bring together lots of scientists, staff and volunteers for another three weeks of fun and hard work. Here's some of the world scientists expected to come for the Southern Expedition.
Click on image for larger view.
And some of Singapore's own leading scientists who will be there too.
Click on image for larger view.
More details and sign up procedures for the Southern Expedition will be sent out to registered volunteers through the Mega Marine Survey mailing list.

This briefing was shared by our Expedition Leader, Dr Tan Koh Siang of the Tropical Marine Science Institute and included an overview of what lies ahead and how much the Survey has already achieved! For this year, we will continue with the fascinating seabed surveys, and start the reef surveys.
Dr Tan also reviewed some of our favourite activities, such as the mudflat surveys. These produced lots of specimens with some exciting finds. The surveys also revealed that no two mudflats in Singapore were alike, in fact, different parts of the same mudflat can be very different. I kind of miss the mudflat surveys now that this phase is over.
Here's some of the highlights of the mudflat surveys. Including ctenophores, octopus, sea cucumbers and tiny crustaceans. And that lump at the top right corner is not poo, but a sponge which was surprisingly found in the mudflats and in mangroves!
The on-going seabed surveys have had amazing results! Singapore's seabed area is vast, about as big as the terrestrial area of Singapore! This has been marked out into 150 sampling quadrats. So far, we have done 40 of them and found lots of cool marine life including the first record of a fish called Amphioxus that hasn't been seen for decades.
Here's some of the ways in which the seabed is surveyed. Dr Tan also showed us a cool video clip taken by a camera attached to a trawl, so we could see what is down there at the bottom of the sea. The trawl zoomed past gardens of seafans and giant hydroids!
Here's a photo of the camera (top left corner) and some of the amazing marine life obtained in the tiny samples made of the seabed. Singapore's seabed is as big as Singapore's land, and if the seabed is well covered with such amazing marine life, there sure is lots of wonderful marine life Singapore's waters!
More samples of what was found in the dredge. Often a result of patient sorting by volunteers in the lab. The most interesting of these specimens in the little boring looking crab. Apparently it hasn't been seen in Singapore for decades.
Dr Tan reviews some of the achievements at the Northern Expedition last October. We sure covered a lot of ground, found lots of stuff and had great fun!
The Survey's amazing findings will published in documents that can help us better understand and protect our marine biodiversity. And used to produce popular guides for public awareness and appreciation.
Earlier on, the volunteers and participants of the Survey were treated to a sumptuous Thank You buffet dinner. It was also a great time to catch up with everyone.
Here's some of the volunteers and staff of the Survey who help make all these exciting activities possible.
Come and be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about Singapore's marine biodiversity!

To join the Survey, register your interest in this form and you'll be invited to join the mailing list to receive updates on the Survey and sign up for Survey activities.

Also check out the FAQs for more about the Survey.

Rene Ong, who has been tirelessly photographing all the various activities, also shared more photos of last night's dinner and briefing. Thank you Rene!

Ivan Kwan also live-tweeted the event which is consolidated on this storify post.

And Heng Pei Yan reminded that we have a twitter hashtag for the Survey and its #MegaMarine

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