death by paper cut

Within a day, I visited two green spaces that are as vastly different as the East is from the West. In fact literally, Chinese & Japanese Gardens is located in the far west of Singapore and Pasir Ris Park in the far East.

As expected, Chinese & Japanese Gardens is highly manicured and landscaped as it is meant to be in fulfilling its function of providing a zen-like ambiance for the residents in its environs. Although managed by JTC and not NParks, there is still some effort in putting up sign-boards informing visitors more about the fauna that has made Chinese & Japanese Gardens a home.

Chinese & Japanese Gardens 5 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 6

With good jogging tracks meandering around water ways, shelters, amenities and themed structures, Chinese & Japanese Gardens is a Botanic Gardens of the West. Interestingly, the birds that roost at Chinese & Japanese Gardens are endemic to Singapore more than say the resident swans at Botanic Gardens.

Grey Heron and Milky Stork

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Chinese & Japanese Gardens 48 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 45

Other critters; plantain squirrel, a clutch of apple snail eggs, spiders

Chinese & Japanese Gardens 43 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 39

Chinese & Japanese Gardens 37 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 38

Views from the 7-storey Pagoda, in which someone was actually playing the Chinese Flute.

Chinese & Japanese Gardens 11 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 12

Other areas

Chinese & Japanese Gardens 23 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 52

Chinese & Japanese Gardens 25 Chinese & Japanese Gardens 56

The Mangrove Boardwalk at Pasir Ris Park on the other hand is not as big, but is chock-a-block full of biodiversity. Although Pasir Ris Park lies on reclaimed land, the mangrove at the Boardwalk is a mature mangrove forest that was “preserved during reclamation and development by maintaining tidal inundation—rivulet was dug to connect the patch with Sungei Tampines.”

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 30 Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 7

Easily spotted among the mangrove plants are the commonly seen Mudskippers and Mangrove Crabs scuttling along the mounds of Mud Lobsters.

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 6

These mounds that can reach up to 3 metres are created by Mud Lobsters as they process heaps of mud and sand to eat tiny organic matter in the mud. Large volumes of mud need to be sieved through to obtain sufficient nutrition.

Mud Lobster digging helps the mangrove community by recycling material from deep in the mud, loosening the mud and allowing air and oxygenated water to penetrate the otherwise oxygen-poor soil. This facilitates the growth of mangrove seedlings. Experiments show that seedlings grow more quickly on mud lobster-processed soil. Other plants found commonly growing on the mounds include Sea Holly. (naturia)

Sea Holly

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 11 Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 10

Unlike some mangrove plants, Sea Holly do not exclude salt at the root level. In fact, their sap is salty and excess salt is secreted through the leaves, to be removed by rain or wind. Sometimes, the salt can be seen as a white crystalline layer on the upper surface. (naturia)


Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 15

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 17

Watch this 5 minute documentary of the Mudskipper by David Attenborough to see this strange fish walk, jump, fight, regurgitate mud and transport oxygen by the gulpful.

While it is commonly observed is that the Mud Lobster mounds provide shelter for small quartic creatures and a range of others adapted to live in these mini-habitats (naturia), what is not often seen is this baby Malayan Water Monitor Lizard perched inside one and peering out contently at us gawking boardwalkers.

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 13

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 14

Also not as often seen is the venomous Shore Pit Viper in plain sight.

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 23

I explored the Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk on a guided walk by the Naked Hermit Crabs while the visit to Chinese & Japanese Gardens was an independent jaunt. Either way, there is a lot of see, learn and appreciate in the green spaces of Singapore. And anything curious encountered can be brought to light with a google search.

Maybe you might even come across a pet Moluccan Cockatoo and a wedding entourage at your next boardwalk.

Pasir Ris Park Mangrove Boardwalk 31


et cetera