Sunday, April 27, 2008

First OJT !

went to be an assistant guide with Ron to bring a group of public (spiderconch) to Semakau. First time to guide the public so was pretty excited & looking forward to it haha!

waking up at 5+ was no easy feat.. but it was rewarding as the sunrise was really beautiful..
at the jetty

a clearer view at the boat

enroute to the intertidal flats. it was a great weather(: though it gets a little hot after that.

This piece of grassland used to be the sea. But it has been reclaimed for the landfill. This is actually a red beacon which is used to mark the end of the sea(last time before it is reclaimed).

Sponges! like what you see in spongebob square pants. It is actually an animal, a simple one though. These organisms eat by filtering the water for plankton. Some sponges are actually poisonous so avoid handling them with your bare hands. With its natural defense mechanisms and a constant flow of oxgenated water through it, sponges are actually home to many tiny creatures as well!

Raise your hand up if you are enjoying yourself..!

That's my group- spiderconch crossing the seagrass lagoon. Do not belittle this patch of seagrass..! With plenty of shelter and food, the seagrass meadow is actually an important habitat for organisms to lay their eggs and juveniles to develop into adults.

Common seastar (Archaster typicus)

Yes they are mating! The male being the smaller one, lies on top of the female one. Despite doing this, their reproductive organs actually do not meet..! Seastar practise external fertilisation, where their sperms and eggs are released outside silmultaneously. This position is to increase their chances of fertilisation. Seastar also have remarkable regenerative power. They can regenerate their lost limbs as long as the central disk is not damaged. But that does not mean you can pluck off their arms q: Unlike human beings, they use sea water instead of blood so do not take them out of water for too long.

Those tiny things sticking out are their tubefeet. Seastar travel by using tubefeet.

These tiny shells are homes to the hermit crabs! So try not to pick up shells in future even though they are empty. Hermit crab changes shells every now and then as it grows. Without shells, they are vulnerable to their predators and external factors.

The carpet anemones (Stichodactyla sp.) are among the largest of sea anemones. They have stinging tentacles and eats small animals! It can inject toxins at the organisms and move them to its central mouth. It does not have an anus so it actually has to spit out indigestible wates from its previous meal before it can consume the next one.

& we saw nudibranches(:

Chromodoris lineolata

Nudibranchs also mean 'naked gills'. these sea slugs are really colourful. They breathe using the flower-like feathery external gill found on their backs. The pair of tentacles found at the other end is known as the rhinophores. They are believed to detech chemicals in the hunt for their prey and mates. As they have lost their shells as adults, they inject poisonous toxins to protect themselves and tis is warned by their bright colours. Despite being small, these beautiful little creatures are actually carnivores! They feed on immobile creatures like zoanthids, sponges and eggs of other organisms.

Gymnodoris rubropapulosa

This is another nuidibranch. It is actually a fierce eater as it eats other slugs from the same species! Since slugs are haemophrodites, they have both the male and female reproductive organs hence fertilises each other. However for the gymnodoris, seeing its same species means food and sex for them! So when they meet each other, they try to fertilise and eat each other! Eventually the loser will be eaten up and the winner will perform the function of the mother to give birth.

A ferocious predator, the noble volute seeks on other shells using its siphons and suffocates its prey with its huge muscular foot and wait till the exhausted clams to open out their shells to breathe (which may take several days)! It then sticks its proboscis in and consumes it with its radula(tongue).

Boulder coral (Family Favidae)

or is it knob coral? (Favia sp.) X:

The above is a hard coral. Each hole on the hard coral has a coral animal (known as polyps). These animals build their own house using calcium carbonate. & they are actually carnivores that feed on planktons.

Ocellated sea cucumber (Stichopus ocellatus)

This species of sea cucumber do not eject sticky threads for defense, but it may eject its internal organs which is even worse! When removed from water for too long, it becomes limp and may disintegrate. But it is still able to reverse the process if it is not too badly 'melted'.

Moon snail (Family Naticidae)

Looks pretty, but it is a fierce predator. Unlike noble volute, even if the bivales refuse to open up their shells, it can secrete an acid to soften their shell. & it uses ts radula(tongue) to further create a hole so as to feed on them! So next time when you see empty shells with hole at its end, you know what has happened huh.

Scallop (Chlamys sp.)

Bivalves(two part shells) feed by taking in water and filter it for planktons. It can 'swim' by flapping its valves.

After the walk, we went to the southern most end of Singapore where the public can access. The sea water is really blue and beautiful here. Agnes and July even mention of swimming and snorkelling here which I think is pretty cool aha.

Overall it was a great trip and again an eyeopening experience. Thanks everyone!(:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Southern Island Cruise!

Went with a group of nature guides at 6 apr to bring a group of foreigners to explore our southern islands! It was a breathtaking one, beautiful weather, great audience, sun, sea along with the other experienced guides.. what else can I ask for? haha(:

Beautiful skyline we have. & of course we can see the Singapore Flyer as well.

Singapore once consisted over 60 offshore islands and patch reefs, mostly found at the southern part of Singapore. Singapore's coastlines has since changed drastically at the 1960s due to land reclaimation. Currently, we have a combined land area of 690km2- a 10% increase from its original size.

Singapore currently supports one of the world's busiest ports and one of the largest oil refining centres. Despite all these rapid developments, our reefs(remaining) are still very much alive!

Kusu Island is only 15 mins away from the city centre.

It is said that a magical giant turtle turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors- a malay and a chinese. The grateful sailors then returned to the island to give thanks and others continued the tradition every year. Before it is reclaimed, people say the island looked like the shape of the turtle. One ridge the head, the other (where the hilltop is) the back of the turtle. There are now two Malay shrines and a Chinese temple on Kusu Island. There is also a Tortoise Sanctuary houses hundreds of tortoises.

Kusu is ringed by reefs with a wide variety of hard and soft corals. Commonly seen animals include clown anemonefish(nemo!), anemone shrimps as well as other fishes and crabs seldom seen on other southern shores.

As you can see, Lazarus Island has lush tropical vegetation, golden sands and aquamarine waters. the reef flat is rich as well hence it is earmarked by the STB for development into a tropical beach island resort! This island however is not accessible to the public yet.

Folktale state that pirates once used St John Island as a hideout. It is a former penal settlement for political prisoners and ringleaders for secret societies. In the central portion of the island, the ruined remains of housing remain for the unfortunate folks remain.

Swimming and picnicking are the most popular activities on the island. The island has plenty of beaches and shelters. There are also holiday bungalows that are fairly comfortable and include cooking facilities.

There is an unusually large number of land hermit crabs and sea cucumbers. There are also some of the most exquisite corals and other reef life but the shores are rather delicate so please be gentle when visiting them.

Sisters Island(the two small islands at the right side)The Sisters Island are home to some long-tailed macaques. These monkeys can be quite aggressive, so do be mindful of them. The two sisters island are seperated by a narrow channel. It may look harmless BUT the currents through this channel are very strong and deep so it is NOT possible to swim across them. Commonly encountered animals include giant clams, seahorses and octopuses.

One of the man-made lagoon at sisters.

The Indonesian mountains.

me, Aye(from Myanmar) and Agnes!

We dropoffed at Pulau Semakau where we had a landfill tour.

Semakau landfill is the world's first offshore landfill! It was created when Singapore's last remaining landfill was exhausted. It is expected to last beyond 2o45. The landfill is not filthy smelly or anything. As care has been taken to protect its natural surroundings, it smells of flora and fauna with a tint of refreshing sea breeze! It is also open to public for nature related recreational activities such as bird-watching, sport-fishing and intertidal walks(that is us!).
After the trip, lunched at masonic club(cheap food and cool place)-ginger beer-masarai-home(:

P.S thanks aye and agnes for the pics!
LK and all the other guides for the info as well!