Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Once Upon a Tree: Tides and Coastlines episode 02 - Old Singapore

After a day spent at sea, baking in the sun hard day's work diving, this divejunkie of a fish grabbed a quick meal after a much needed de-salination. Following which, promptly sat down in front of the tv. This time with a notebook and pencil in hand to scribble things down (and hopefully make this week's summary and review a tad bit more coherent. Timing today was utterly impeccable since the screen came on mere seconds before the episodes theme/title came on...

Old Singapore

We are given a quick history 101 by Assoc. Prof. John Miksic (Dept. of South East Asian Studies, NUS) who specialises in coastlines. The few minutes given to him really was an eye opener for me. Hearing about Pulau Saigon (that has since long been absorbed into this large solid mass of land that is mainland Singapore), one of the islands that used to be in one of our rivers, how the size of our shellfish has decreased not so much due to overfishing but more to the overall decline in water quality..... The decrease in fish sizes and the long gone days of amazingly clear waters aren't news to me, largely due to the time spent on local boats, with elderly boatmen who are more than happy to share stories from their good old days. Good to know that a few more people in Singapore get to hear about this not-so-wellknown heritage we have. Liked how he summed up on the connection/outlet to the sea being important to the wellbeing of our modern society.

Focus then shifts to probably the most wellknown of our intertidals, Chek Jawa. Quick history on CJ for those who don't really know about it. Gazetted for reclamation in 1992, saved at the 11th (or maybe even the 12th hour) in 2001 due to public outcry, currently a protected area managed by NParks, status up for review in 3 years.... Zaki's acting as Sue-Lyn's guide this time. Don't know him, and haven't had the chance of meeting him but has a write-up on him here.
DSCF9254 solitary mangrove
CJ being an utterly unique area that includes a number of ecosystems, they are kinda all mentioned in this portion of the episode. All with little stories about seahares, garlic bread sea cucumbers, horseshoe crabs (aka king crab), crab moults, and tubeworms woven together nicely.
IMG_2419 mangroves

Shawn brings us back to the presence of the past through a series of nostalgic reminiscence of times long gone when Singapore had pristine, clear crystallin blue seas. Times when Beach Road WAS at the beach, when Thian Hock Keng temple had the sea lapping it's steps, when Raffles Hotel attributed its popularity to having a beachfront.... All part of our UNwritten history. After hearing that the actual target audience for this series is actually 15-year-olds, this "hidden" history and heritage of Singapore feels even more important. Especially the need to preserve at least part of it to be passed down for generations to come...

This week's take-home message is to take notes (as detailed as possible with sketches, descriptions, colors etc.) instead of bringing an organism home.... Love to say this while guiding, and I'll say it here again. Take nothing but photos and memories, leave nothing but footprints. Also, taking notes and stuff also help in the learning process of understanding our environment (coastal or otherwise). Definitely of great help for guides-in-training and guides-to-be!

Shawn rounds things up with a story familiar to all of us. How as a child, a simple seashell would seem to hold the sea, beckoning to us.... "Tides give inspiration" How apt that is, even if tides also represent changes.....

Interesting how the episodes start off with an academic, then some form of guided walk at an intertidal area, and ends with a take-home message in the form of how to reduce our ecological footprints.... Super structured, and in a way good to know roughly what to expect when the advert ends. Here's to looking forward to the future with my Draco sp. friend form CJ, and may the tides continue to inspire us even as we reflect on the past that they have observed.... More to come next week!
DSCF9301 flying dragon

Ria has also provided a quick sum up/preview at the wildfilms website here:
http://wildfilms.blogspot.com/2008/02/once-upon-tree-episode-2-on-26-feb-tue.html

4 comments:

ria said...

Wow! That's a super fast and superb review. Thank you!

Ivan said...

It was a nice episode. But they got the scientific name of the horseshoe crab wrong! They *sob* used Limulus polyphemus, which is the North American Atlantic species! *nitpicks* The one they should have used is Tachypleus gigas.

I also felt the beginning intro where Shawn talked about our evolution from aquatic ancestors like Tiktaalik to be a bit unclear, especially given that the general public might not be familiar with tetrapod evolution.

But overall, it was a very nice episode. I certainly didn't know how so many of our landmarks were once right by the sea.

budak said...

the next episode doesn't look too promising though...... aquaculture of carnivorous species like sea bass and cobia doesn't seem like much of an improvement given the amount of fishmeal/feed (harvested from the wild) needed to grow all this protein...

juanicths said...

Thanks for the comments to add more views on the episode ^^

Ivan -> hmm... didn't really bother looking at the species names as much this time round... was a bit busy taking notes... I know the first episode use od "onch" instead of "onchidium" didn't sit too well with me... Thanks for adding you thoughts on the show. Let's just hope Yean reads this entry too ^^

budak-> we'll just hafta see how things go next week. also, not sure what the series' stand on conservation etc. is but as long as I get to learn sth new each wk, no complains from my side...