Mangrove Mystery Nature Trail

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Do you know why researchers observe dragonflies when studying wetland ecosystems?
Also, do you know how to differentiate between cranes and herons?

The above are just a few examples of what participants of NTU Earthlink’s first public nature walk – Mangrove Mystery Nature Trail, learnt during the event. The event was held at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park, on the morning of 7th October 2017.

Sungei Buloh first opened in 1993 as a Nature Park. The area was later upgraded to a Nature Reserve and took on its current name in 2002. In 2003, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve became Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park. The area is now home to 202 hectares of mangroves, mudflats, ponds, and forest, within which countless species of flora and fauna reside with minimal human intervention.

Participants were excited about learning more about the rich biodiversity present in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, as well as observing the various species of flora and fauna in their natural habitat. Everyone was also prepared to brave the early morning sun and unrelenting mosquitoes in order to have a chance to observe and be part of nature at its finest.

After a safety briefing by the event organisers and group photo, participants were split into 4 groups to ensure a better experience when exploring. The guides gave a brief history of the area before setting off on the walk proper. Along the walk, the more knowledgeable participants regularly shared their insights and past experiences with the others, allowing those with less experience to learn more.

The two main areas explored by participants were the bird hides as well as the mangrove boardwalk. Several species of migratory birds were present during our visit, and participants managed to observe them clearly with the help of binoculars. During the mangrove boardwalk section, participants observed the mangrove at high tide.

Let us now review the questions at the very beginning:
“Do you know why researchers observe dragonflies when studying wetland ecosystems?” –
Dragonflies are ideal indicators of wetland health as their larvae develop in water and because they are located relatively low in the food chain. Therefore their presence and health can reveal changes in water ecosystems more quickly than if researchers were to study other organisms.
“Also, do you know how to differentiate between cranes and herons?” –
An easy way to differentiate between cranes and herons is to observe them while they are in flight. Herons curve their necks into a “S” shape and rest it on their bodies while they are flying. Cranes however fly with their necks outstretched.

Let us now take a closer look at mangroves, and why they are so important. Mangroves are useful to both humans and nature in many ways. Firstly, they serve as a form of shoreline protection by acting as a natural barrier to incoming winds and waves, thereby decreasing the intensity at which they hit the shoreline. Mangroves are also able to, as part of the carbon storage mechanism in plants, store up to five times more carbon than an equal area of rainforest. Furthermore, mangrove forests are home to hundreds of species of plants and animals. The roots can serve shelter for many underwater animals, while the forest itself is a food source for other animals. Therefore, in order to protect such a valuable asset, we should contribute to the protection and conservation of mangroves worldwide, starting with our own mangroves right here at home.

If you have unfortunately missed this event, fret not! You can keep a lookout for future nature trails organised by Earthlink 🙂

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