To many people mangroves are a hot, humid and dangerous place teeming with insects and dangerous creatures. They are often referred to as swamps. Actually mangroves are one of the most intriguing and interesting habitats one can visit. Where can you see a fish “walk” on land, come on one of our free guided walks and you’ll see the mudskipper doing just that! It’s the only place where the nationally endangered mud lobster (thalassina anomala) chooses to build its home.
In 1819 it is estimated that about 13% of Singapore was covered in mangroves, today we only have about half percent. Luckily today the true value of mangroves is being discovered both by scientist and nature lovers.
Mangroves are the first line indicators on the well being of our coastlines, a thriving community of mangroves usually indicated good water quality. They slow down soil erosion and some species of mangroves actually help in reclaiming land with their complex root systems. Their prop roots offer protection to many species of insects and fish especially two species of commercially important fish, the Sea Bass and Mangrove Jack Its also home to unusual fish like the Archer fish that captures its prey by “spitting” water at it.
Even the vegetation is different, as plants and trees that grow there can tolerate a very high level of salt water. Many get rid of the high salt content by shedding their leaves
Here you’ll also find a versatile palm called nipah (nypa Fruticans) That’s used to make many things including the “ Attar Chee” fruit that goes into cold desserts
The matured leaves are made into roofing material hence the term “ Attap House”, they young salt leaves are dried and used by kampong folks as cigarette wrappers. The sap from the inflorescence stalk can be used boiled down to make brown rock sugar (Gula Melaka) it is already considered a “rare” species in Singapore.
The rich insect and bug life in the mangroves attract a great number of aquatic and other birds to hunt and nest there. On one of out monthly free walks you’ll see kingfishers, herons, egrets and other birds pouched and looking out for a meal
Experts also now say that if the mangroves had not been cut down (to make way for sea front bungalows) there would have been many less causalities during the last tsunami. This would be a good opportunity for lending organisations to make mangrove planting a requirement before rebuilding loans can be approved The Green Volunteers organize free monthly guided nature walks and mangrove clean-up at Pasir Ris park
If you want to go for a nature walk or help give mangroves a hand by clearing up trash (mostly plastic) go to our blog (www.thegreenvolunteers.blogspot.com) to sign up.