A Sunday morning anniversary walk at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve
News about Sungei Buloh
Refer to the Mangrove Guidebook

Stations and Outline




Topic 1

Topic 2

Topic 3

Topic 4

3 zones of the mangrove forest


Visitor Center Theatrette

Yout team today

History and status

Habitats & seasonality

Guiding route.



Topic 1

Topic 2

Topic 3

Topic 4

3 zones of the mangrove forest


Beginning of boardwalk: (Mud lobster mound zone).

Zone:Mud lobster mounds, strong freshwater influence, lots of mozzies.

Other senses: Sound of cicadas, Smell of H2S, Texture of trees and soil.

Plant: Excoecaria agallocha the blinding tree.

Animal/insect: Longicorn Beetle Attack.


First shelter (Main forest zone).

Zone: Main forest zone - no mounds. Cf. river.

Mangrove adaptation - Breathing roots,

Plant: Avicennia lanata the pioneer.

Algae: Colours on the floor.


Second Shelter (Marine zone).

Zone: Barnacle zone, near the sea.


A predatory mollusc - Thais.

Plant: Sonneratia alba.


Bend in boardwalk.

Animal/crab: Tree-climbing crabs.

Animal/fish: Mudskippers.

Plant: Rhizophora apiculata.


3rd Shelter facing Johor.

Animal/mollusc: algae-grazing mollusc, Nerita.

Plant: Bruguiera cylindrica and B. gymnorhiza.

Mangrove adaptation: Vivipary: Bruguiera or Rhizophora seed.

Sounds of kingfishers, ceiling paintings.


Return route to VC.

Animal/crab: Tree-climbing crabs eat leaves.

Mangrove adaptations: Breathing roots.

Plant: Derris trifoliata.

Plant: Sea hibiscus

The river and thebrackish ponds



Zone: River. WWII story - invasion through rivers and mangroves.

Animal/fish: Archer Fish, Green Chromide, Garfish, Halfbeaks, Mullets.

Animal/mollusc: Green Mussel - a filter-feeding mollusc (planktivore).

Animals/mammals & reptiles: Crocs (rare), Otters (rare), Monitor lizards (common).


Main Hide - w/scopes from SBNP, and panels at the back.

Zone: Brackish pond.

Animal/birds: Migratory birds in the distance. 2-4 examples of waders.

Animal/birds: East Asian Flyway, refuelling, resident vs. migratory, camouflage, beak form & function.

Telescopium - hundreds of detritus-eating mollusc.


Sluice Gate.

Zone: Sluice gate function, danger, history.

Mangrove adaptations: prawn farming.

Plant: nypah and coconut.


Outline of the walk

Introduction: Visitor Center Theaterette: (Sivasothi)

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Introduction - The Guiding Team & Mangroves
Who's who; general background of the team: students, professionals, all keen on sharing nature with others

History and status of Sungei Buloh Nature Park
SBNP was a fish/prawn pond farm area,which is gradually recovering. On the route of migratory birds, the Nature Society (Singapore) first proposed the area as park, and this was accepted by the government. On 6 December 1993, the park was officially opened by the PM, Mr Goh Chok Tong. The good news: On 10th November 2001, Mr Mah Bow Tan announced tha SBNP (along with Labrador Park) would be gazzeted as a nature reserve!

Sungei Buloh Nature Park, a wetlands reserve
Some 8 years after the official opening, the park is now touted as a wetlands reserve. Whis is this so?
The SBNP area consists of a few different sub-habitats: freshwater ponds, river, forest, brackish ponds and mudflats. Each consists of a different association of plants and animals. While the migratory birds are an interesting attraction, they are a very small fraction of the multitude of plants and animals in habit the park.

Seeing everything in a day?
Can you see everything today? Well, many factors affect what you see: Seasonality: breeding seasons, flowering seasons, migration, tides, weather and good luck. E.g. Sea Hibiscus tends to flower between June-Sept, and another tree, Excoecaria agallocha, has been flowering and fruiting recently.

Today we will visit the VC boardwalk (forest), bridge (river) and main hide (brackish pond). We willalso pass by a sluice gate and a freshwater pond. It is a rising tide, so we will better see migratory birds and tree-climbing crabs. We will see just a fraction of the common plants and animals in the SSC Mangrove Guidebooks, and we hope we will have encourgaed you to come back on your own to see the rest of it in future.


Station 1: Beginning of forest/boardwalk: Mud Lobster Mound Zone

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Beginning of boardwalk: (Mud lobster mound zone)

1. Mud lobster mound zone
These are found towards the back of the mangrove and dominate this area, hence the name. As you walk into the forest towards the sea, the mounds disappear. Where are the mud lobsters?

2. Use of 5 senses to experience the surrounding:
Sounds: e.g. cicada, bird calls (later by others),
Sight: colour of mud compared to the back mangrove soil,
Smell: hydrogen sulphide (if present) anaerobic respiration of bacteria
Touch: bark of trees, texture of mud etc. (will prepare some for eager beavers to test texture of smelly mud)
Taste: can taste the secretion of salt from some mangrove trees and sea holly

3. Mudlobster:
External features (photos), habitat, mode of feeding, medicinal value.

4. Excoecaria agallocha: how to identify, e.g.lenticel on trunk, blinding sap - significance of Malay name

5. Longicorn Beetle Attack - external features (photos), relationship with Excoecaria plant.


Station 2: First shelter, Main forest zone.

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Absence of mounds
The mud lobster mounds are becoming less prominent. We are approaching the sea and have wandered into Zone 2. This is the main forest.

Colours on the ground: algae
The reddish-brown patches are red alage, which is eaten in other countries. Green patches are green algae.

Breathing roots
Unlike the traditional image of a tree, here you find pencil like breathing roots, kneed roots, gnarled roots, stilt roots, conical breathing roots - and all sticking out of the ground. The mud lacks oxygen so trees stick roots out of the ground.

Introduction to Avicennia


Station 5: Boardwalk Main Shelter

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Introduction to Nerita, a algae-grazing snail, i.e. an algivore

Introduction to Bruguiera
Red flowers, dark bark and cigar-shaped fruit of B. gymnorhiza
Greenish white flowers,thinner and longer cylindrical-shaped fruits of B. cylindrica

Adaptation of mangrove plants: vivipary
Vivpary is germination of the seed out of seed coat and the fruit wall while still attached to mother plant (cf. mango)
Different species of Rhizophora and Bruiguiera have different lengths and shape of fruit,
Better survival compared to seed, dispersal via sea lasting days or weeks until landing on suitable substrate.
Analogy: children leaving home later in Singapore.

3rd shelter: Ceiling tile paintings
-done by various schools, and students of different ages
-spot anything familiar?
Relax, welfare, enjoy ambience
-anybody not feeling well?
-drink water


Station 6: Return route to VC

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Common Derris (Derris trifoliata)
Found from East Africa to subtropical and tropical Asia and to tropical Australia
Woody climber
Pinnate leaves of 3, 5 or 7 leaflets
Inflorescence of around 1 cm long, pea-like flowers
Used as fish poison
Leaf contains rotenone
Thus, when crushed and dispersed in streams or on the reef, would kill fish and shrimp
Illegal to cultivate the plant in Guam

Sea Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus)
Commonly known as Baru Baru, or Baru Laut
Grows along seashore and back mangroves
Indicates high water mark
Also indicates boundary between end of salt water and beginning of freshwater swamp

Dark green above, whitish and short-hairy below
Leaves are spirally arranged
Heart shaped
Slightly 3-lobed
Leaf blade palmately 7 &endash; 9 veined

Petals obvate|
Colour yellow, maroon at base
Flowering season between March to September
Flowers open in the morning and turn orangey brown before falling on the same evening or the following day

Leaves used to cool fevers, sooth coughs
Fresh bark soaked in water to treat dysentery
Flowers boiled with milk can be used for ear infections

Bark contains tough fibres used to make ropes and to caulk ships
Cord has unique property of being stronger when wet
Ropes used to make fishing nets, hammocks, net bags
In Tahiti, it is used to make "grass" skirts
White timber used to outrigger canoes

Leaves fed to cattle in South-east Asia
Young leaves eaten by the Polynesians
Used as famine food in India, where mucilage and bark is eaten and stalks sucked

Station 7 : Bridge over Sungei Buloh Besar

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Bridge span over Sungei Buloh Besar mark the beginning of experience of wild nature and your important point of return as you are lost in these experiences.
North is facing Malaysia. River is lifeline of this mangrove ecosystem which collect storm water from surrounding Agro-technology park and connected to the sea.

Living Condition
It is a harsh condition in which the water is characterized by alkaline, low oxygen, high salinity. All organisms must also endure 4 time daily intertidal change. Only the highly adapted mangrove organisms will survive here.

WWII History
During WWII, Japanese soldier may have get ready on Malaysia part of mangrove rivers (Tebrau) to launch attack on Singapore and nearest launching site is at mouth of Kanji River, which is now converted to a fresh water reservoir.

Mammals and Reptiles
Smooth Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) 1.3m
You will be very lucky to spot a visiting family of 3 adult and 2 juveniles sighted in this Park.

Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
Another visitor is estuarine crocodile that is now rarely seen in Singapore. Adult species are tolerance of salinity but juveniles are raised in fresh water.

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) >2m
A common residents that often mistaken with crocodile. It crawl, climb tree and expert swimmer.

Lots of fish in the sea
Striped-Nosed Half Break (Zenarchopterus buffonis) to 23 cm
They swim near the surface recognize with shiny white tips of the lower jaw. Upper jaw is shorter allow it to feed off insects drop into water.

Spot-Tail Needlefish (Strongylura strongylura) to 46cm
Nearby alone slender and long jaws with sharp teeth and is predator of small surface dwelling fish. Another common name is Garfish.

Mullets (F. Mugilidae) around 40 cm
Travel in groups with flat dorsal surface, blunt snout and a pair of large pectoral fins. They feed on algae and microorganism.

Green Chromide (Etroplus suratensis) to 30cm
They can be seen feeding off the pillar with black strip. Originate from Sri Lanka and India, introduced as aquarium fish.

Archer Fish (Toxotes jaculatrix) to 20cm
With bold black & white body marking, this is most unusual fish that frame for spitting a jet of water aiming at insect or small creature resting on roots or branches. It is capable of rapid succession shooting of its prey. Its secret of shooting accuracy, to avoid refraction in air-water boundary that causes visual distortion, is by positioning itself directly under its prey. To compete for its prey, it is able to leap out of the water to snatch the prey.


When text comes in, add to main hide, Station 8

Main Hide

Flyways of the world/East Asian Flyway/Resident & Migratory Birds
Why do migratory birds breed in the arctic and then fly all the way to Australia in winter and back?
If you were a mother bird what are the most important things in your choice of breeding area?
Lack of predators, abundance of food in summer, rapid development of chicks, need to refuel often, need to keep moving as food depletes, importance of mudflats to migratory birds.

Singapore as number one airport for birds as well.
Land bridge.
Other flyways in the world.

Residents & Migratory birds: Resident birds: birds found mainly in mangroves: E. g. Waterhen and Collared Kingfisher;
Migrant birds: Common Kingfisher

Station 9: Sluice Gate

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Sluice gate function/water drainage/danger
Sluice gates control the level of water in ponds.
In fish/prawn farms to refresh water, allow entry of food and larval prawns, harvest adults.
As park: to allow at least one of the ponds to remain low and uncover mudflats so migratory birds always have a place to eat. 24-hour kopi tiam. Good time to see lots of migratory birds is high tide cos only mudflats revealed are at SBNP pond.
Danger: huge pressure of water, when open, dangerous current.

History & methods of prawn farming
Traditional prawn farming: larva from the surrounding water, feed from surrounding water. Prawns hide in mud during the day, come up at night. Commercial prawn farming: use imported larvae, need antibiotics and fertiliser, high tech equipment and techniques. Requires lots of capital so not suited for small-holders. Produces a lot of waste that poisons surrounding area when ponds are flushed. Eventually, acidity in soil builds up and ponds have to be abandoned. Takes years for habitat to recover. The Neo family.

Nypah vs. coconut
Nypah source of attap, attap chee, gula melaka.I'll try to get an example of a Nypah seed to show them. Similarities: Nypah and Coconut are palms, seeds dispersed by water and can withstand sea water. Coconut so widely dispersed we do not know its origin.

But Nypah has underground trunk which can branch. They form thickets upstream along river banks leading to mangroves. Their underground trunks reinforce the banks.


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Seeing everything in a day?
What we saw today serves merely as an introduction to the park. Come again, visit on your own, there is enough information in the SSC guidebooks and Mangrove webpages linked at <http://mangrove.nus.edu.sg>. There are also volunteer guides from SBNPV on duty on weekends.

Thanks for your company and have a pleasnt day!