A coast to boast in the west too, please

Straits Times Forum 10 Oct 11;

ON OCT 1, my friend and I headed down to West Coast Park to work on a project for a school module. As we were required to photograph the flora and fauna in coastal areas, we decided to work on the Marsh Garden there.

Having done some research prior to the trip, we knew the Marsh Garden mangroves had undergone regeneration activities recently and we were keen to explore this relatively unknown area.

When we reached the place, however, we were disappointed at the small size of the mangrove area and what appeared to be an infestation of black, slimy molluscs in the water. The Marsh Garden was luxuriously vegetated at one end, but sparse at another. To add to our despair, we spotted koi and red-eared sliders in the water, although they are not found in mangrove areas.

But our initial disappointment turned into amazement as we realised how much this small patch of mangroves had to offer. Within a short span of an hour, we spotted at least nine species of birds, including a beautiful stork-billed kingfisher and a little heron. Furthermore, all corners of the mangrove area were relatively accessible, allowing us to creep near the water's edge to capture a few shots of a flowering Bruguiera gymnorhiza.

We left pleased with the wildlife we saw but could not help but feel that this wonderful patch of nature was not getting anywhere. For one thing, the fact that so many birds could be seen shows that this mangrove patch has the potential to support more biodiversity. However, the bad water quality and poor vegetation seem to be limiting its potential to do so. Moreover, the Marsh Garden is essentially pretty artificial as it drains into a canal that leads out to West Coast Beach.

This portion of the beach was crowded with boats and vessels, its shores devoid of life except for small molluscs.

It would definitely be a good start to rejuvenate this area in the West Coast by naturalising the surroundings and expanding the mangrove site.

It would be wonderful if those living in the western part of Singapore have a coast to boast of just as those living in the east do.

Cheong Shu Min (Miss)