Saturday, February 23, 2008

Training at Semakau intertidal

I went to Semakau Landfill area as a trainee for future guides and we set off from Marina South Pier. And I'm always amazed at this island that some say look like a pimple, some say like a pau. This is Pulau Jong.

According to a local story, a Chinese junk was attacked by Malay pirates one night when the island now is. Just as the pirates were about to board the junk, the captain awoke, and uttered such a frightful yell that the sea spirit turned the whole junk into an island.

Interesting myth isn't it? This island has even more interesting marine life that I hope to visit one day if possible.

While going through the landfill tour, Luan Keng was talking about the great billed heron (Ardea sumatrana) and immediately someone pointed from the bus this one. According to the Bird Ecology Study Group, this bird is claimed to be the tallest resident bird in Singapore. However, this bird is confined to rocky shores and mangroves, mainly on offshore islands and the west coast. It is also locally endangered with only about 20 plus birds left. Internationally, the bird is near-threatened.

After braving the mosquito infested coastal forest especially for those who wore sexily (including Justin), we were out at the intertidal flats discussing about mangroves and the high shores. Walking down, we notice a number of freshly placed bubu traps with chicken or duck claws as bait.

And we saw this man dragging more traps at a far distance away. This is an example of the pressures our marine habitat has to take.

This is a noble volute laying eggs! Volutes are carnivorous as they prey on bivalves, enveloping the victim completely with their foot forcing the bivalve to finally open from exhaustion and lack of oxygen. These pretty snails used to be common but now threaten due to 'harvesting' from humans and habitat lost.

This cute shaped cockle is called a heart cockle. The one we found today is in a stunning red colour!

It lives in shallow waters of sand and mud. Do you know that all cockles are hermaphroditic, which means they possess both the male and female sex organs (like the flatworm). Sadly they are threatened due to over collection. Don't you think they are better to be alive to form a complete heart than collected dead with detached sides of a broken heart?

The underside of the cockle. In blue, contrasting to the stunning pinkish red. What a rare beauty!

Can you see the rather transparent tentacles of this highly camouflaged scallop filter feeding bits of organic stuffs from the waters?

This is a mushroom coral. Mushroom corals are solitary single animal that are free living. Unlike most corals, most mushroom corals are attached to the reef only when they are small.

And this is yet another type of mushroom coral called the sunflower mushroom coral. Look at the tentacles, aren't they interesting?

This is another stunning sunflower mushroom coral! In lime green somemore. Wow.

The hunter seekers did a great job on finding nudibranchs. And where we have four Gymnodoris rubropapulosa. 'Nudibranch' means 'naked gills'. The name comes from the flower-like gills found on the back of many nudibranchs. Nudibranchs are related to snails.

Nudibranchs are carnivores; each species usually feed on a particular type of prey, which is usually something that can't move, like sponges, ascidians, hard corals, soft corals, sea anemones, zoanthids, peacock anemones, sea pens and eggs of other creatures. Some nudibranchs, such as this species also feed on other slugs.

More nudibranch: this one is the ever-cute polka-dot nudibranch.

Wow, what a wonderful discovery. This is the first time I saw the Ceratosoma nudibranch (Ceratosoma sp.).

This must be the icon of the intertidal trips for the participants. The knobbly seastar are not venomous, although they are often brightly colored and covered with dangerous-looking knobs, nodules and spines.

We saw a number of sea cucumbers including the sandfish and this one is the stonefish sea cucumber which I have only seen once before at Hantu.

Flatworms are very fragile and might break or tear if handled. They move very quickly too and can disappear in an instant into some crevice.

Flatworms want to avoid being a female, since a female need to lay eggs which is energy-spending. Instead they want to poke their penis to the other party anywhere. Bigger flatworms especially love indulging in penis fighting.

Haven't seen this coral (Acropora sp.) for quite some time and am glad to see it again. Apologise for murky waters as tide was coming in.

While walking back, this octopus entertained us.

Night fell and soon we made our way back. Today's training was a fruitful one to my opinion as I've learnt a lot.

This lounge sofa part is on the ferry that we took today. It's really comforty and its also time for us trainees to take our group photo.
See you Semakau next time!

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