Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Asian Glossy Starling at Changi

A visit to the Changi boardwalk area last week revealed a wonderful sunrise during dawn. And the nibong (Oncosperma sp.) stems attract several Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis).

What a wonderful sight!

Starling on the top of the stem with the full moon as a backdrop.

Close up of the Asian Glossy Starling.

To learn about more these birds, please take a look at the Bird Ecology Study Group blog where this post talks about these starlings at the same location, with also a sighting of feeding chicks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Semakau intertidal walk with LTA staff

It's been some time since I've last went Semakau for guiding. On a wonderful Saturday morning, we were out at Semakau landfill, not to just look at the rubbish, but at the fabulous marine creatures at the intertidal area. It was also my last OJT as well. This time I was paired with Robert, and he is known as the person who can remember a lot of facts. Soon, I experienced that myself too.

We had the honour to guide the LTA staff and we went for a short stroll initially since the van was fetching other groups first. It's nice to take a walk breathing fresh air in the dawn with a nice sun rise. Nah, it's not smelly there as the rubbish were burnt into ash and somemore covered with a layer of topsoil with vegetation growing on top.

After bashing through the forested area, we reached the beginning of the intertidal area, admist shooing away of mosquitoes. Robert discussed and shared on the different habitats we can find. Soon, we take a closer look at a sea cucumber that Robert was holding.

And it is the dragonfish sea cucumber (Stichopus horrens). Robert was sharing with the guys that if we remove the sea cucumber from the water for too long, it can actually "melt" in our hands. Actually they become limp and will then disintegrate if you continue to remove from water for a long time. Recovery is possible if you put it back into the water soon enough.

Several nudibranch were spotted by the hunter seekers including this polka dot nudibranch (Jorunna funebris). Though they look cute, the patterns and coloration are warning signs that they are toxic. So it will be a disaster if you put them into your marine aquarium. Leave them alone in the wild.

The group was quite surprised to see the long synaptic sea cucumber which many thought it was a worm. That might explain why the Once upon a tree: Tides and Coastlines programme identified this as marine worm.

Sea stars are always attractions that marvel participants of any shore walk. These common sea stars are sadly uncommon. They are hardly seen in the mainland at all! Which I believe is due to shore degradation or overcollection by poachers.

This moon snail is actually a fierce predator by eats other snails. It has a foot which bloats up with water. After which this moon snail can wrap its foot around its prey to try to suffocate it. Otherwise, it can also secrete an acidic liquid to soften the shell of its prey, and use its radula to slowly create a hole on on the shell of its prey. In this way, it can feed on the latter while they are still in their shells! Wow.

The enthusiastic group were constantly enjoying moments with the marine creatures. In this photo you see them fascinated with the ocellated sea cucumber.

I guess the group were most "high" when the stunning and charismatic knobbly sea star appeared.

Which includes a group photo with this iconic sea star as well. :-) Cheese!

This giant clam giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) has been faithfully residing there for every shorewalk participants to learn more about.

The FIND of the day is this cushion sea star (Culcita novaeguineae) which was not seen at Semakau for quite a long while. Thank you Ron for finding it!

The oral side of the fantastic cushion star. Basically the cushion star cannot like other arm-prominent stars eat clams or mollusc due to its "armless" morphology. That's why it eats corals since corals doesn't really move.

Yeap, a personal photo with the cushion star is a must! Thanks LK for volunteering to take this photo for me. Btw, when I see the cushion star, I automatically transformed to be like a tourist. Hahaha!

Other critters found include this blue and white coloured flatworm.

The participants had quite a cucumber-y experience and they didnt seem to be bored with this stonefish sea cucumber. You can see their faces are filled with wonder.

Tide's turning up and we got to cross the seagrass death zone back to the high shores before proceeding for a landfill tour.

At the southernmost point, everyone went into photo taking mode including Penny (forgive me if I spell your name wrongly) and family. What a gamely family :-)

Soon when I shared with them my blog, Penny asked me if I knew Geraldine. Wow, what a small world. I remembered Geraldine was asking me about Semakau and how excited she wanted to go. Yet she didn't turn up in the end that day, because she don't want to wake up early. Grrh. Look what you have missed Geraldine!

Ron helped to take a full group photo too which is both amusing and memorable. Thanks Pufferfish (group name) for the wonderful morning spent with you all.

Back at Marina South Pier, several of this beautiful needle fishes are swimming leisurely around the jetty area. Marine life are really all around us and we ought to protect them as well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Baby Nemo and fishes of Cyrene Reef

When morning dawns, shore explorers were back at Cyrene Reef once again. And we are again treated to a spectacular sunrise.

Sometimes, being in a middle of the busy shipping lane and also beside the refineries at Pulau Bukom, we wonder how resilient nature can be.

Allowing Cyrene Reef to coexist with very nearby developments. This is fascinating and it proves to show that we can have rich biodiversity admist all the development. It is something we should be proud of!

A pair of great crested terns flew near me and rested. One of them was actually swallowing a fish caught from the tidal pool.

No matter how many or often I see them (only at Cyrene), I will still not have a knobby-overdose. These knobby sea stars are indeed charismatic.

And they are ultra super cute when they are in juvenile stage like these three knobblies.

Sea stars is an echinoderm and same for this sea cucumber. We sometimes term it as sandfish, sometimes term as garlic bread sea cucumber. This is also the one you eat during CNY, but it requires processing.

Another sea cucumber, this one can eject white sticky threads when threatened.

This shrimp has greyish-green eyes and is red in colour.

I came across a tiny gigantea carpet anemone and therefore only expected to find anemone shrimps but not nemo.

But to my very surprise, something orange poped out from the tentacles of the small Gigantea anemone. It's a nemo! And a very tiny one, about 3-5mm. Compare the size of the nemo to the tip of the seagrass.

It's exciting to see such a baby nemo in the wild for the first time.

This video, other than showing you how nemos live with their host anemones, also allows you to compare its minute size with the nearby anemone shrimps.

I went to check out another Gigantea anemone, the bigger one found several times before. The two resident adult nemos are still there and this is one of them.

Like Chek Jawa and northern shores, Cyrene Reef has many beautiful peacock anemones.

This one also looks flowery, it is a feather star!

Another perspective of the same featherstar when relaxed. They are related to sea stars and are echinoderms.

Some Nparks personnel were seine netting for seahorses on behalf for Collin at one of the deeper tidal pool.

This is how it is done.

Many many fishes were uncovered in the process!

After a quick count check, we released the fishies back into the pool. How many fish can you spot in this photo?

No prizes though. Haha.

This fish is a first time for many of us. Though its elongated shape looks more like a pipefish, it is actually a Bearded filefish (Anacanthus barbatus).

This then is the pipefish, which is closely related to seahorses.

While this is the usual kind of filefish we usually saw before.

Another filefish from the seine netting.

This sharp long twig looking thing is actually a fish.

Yes its a razor fish that we usually see at Hantu.

Much more about the above fishes at Ria's Wildfilms blog. That's why my descriptions are short.

Again, homosapiens are as interesting at times.

Like Vyna who sportingly wore a t-shirt with a yellow star while Shufen (with the self-indulged looking expressed...laughs out loud) can't wait to also be like Vyna.

Another interesting homosapien is Yuchen doing coastal cleanup at Cyrene with a broom that looks like that used by witches.

Ok lah, actually this is one of the more interesting marine debris found by Ria at first.

Juanhui spotted a very interesting "biscuit-looking" sea star with orange tips where Marcus has the photo at flickr.

Vyna, Jerald and Yuchen spotted beautiful nudibranchs that I've not seen before.

How I wish I could check them out too. But its glad we know new stuffs appear at Cyrene and its never boring to visit this special reef we have.

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