Friday, February 29, 2008

Spiny spiders

The spiny orb-weavers (genus Gasteracantha) also commonly called Spiny-backed orb-weavers, jewel spiders, horned spider, spiked spider and kite spider due to the prominent spines on their abdomen. Due to their shell-like abdomens, some people mistakenly call them crab spiders which is in conflict with those from the family Thomisidae (crab spiders). Many species have splendid colors and even very striking patterns making them one of the celebrated decorators of the rainforest such as Gasteracantha arcuata.

The males are very much smaller in size as compare to the female spiders which also possess two reproductive agencies (one in each side of the body)! Is interesting to find out that it can be only one of the sides, being virgin of the other side, or to be found in both. The female will produce egg mass and die soon after.

I have yet to find out the id of this spider that I saw last week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Singapore Tarantula

Another interesting creature that was found during our CNR walk is this hairy Singapore tarantula (Phlogiellus inermis).
The name tarantula comes from another species of spider that is found in southern Italy. Tarantulas are not really dangerous to most humans. Minor and occasionally more severe problems do occur with some of them include sensitivity and allergies to it's venom.

The name 'tarantula' nowadays refers to large hairy spiders known as Theraphosids or Mygalomorphs. Tarantulas are often called bird eating spiders, very few actually eat birds, those that do usually raid nests and take the young chicks, most however, like our native spiders only eat insects. Tarantulas are kept as pets in some countries. However, it is not allow in Singapore. Tarantulas are shy creatures, if they are disturbed they will usually run away, either to their burrow or to the nearest cover. Sometimes, the spider will adopt a threat posture by lifting its cephalothorax and spreading its jaws and first two pairs of legs (as in the photo below).

Below is another spider that I saw at a different location.
Note: (extact from AVA website)
Singapore does not allow the keeping of exotic pets such as reptiles, amphibians and primates as pets for the following reasons:

-They may introduce and spread diseases to humans and domestic animals.

-Collection of wild animals for trading will lead to ecosystem imbalance and threaten the survival of endangered species.

-The welfare of the animals may be compromised due to reasons such as unsuitable living conditions, poor diet and pet owner's lack of knowledge of the proper care for the animal.

-Singapore's biodiversity would be greatly affected if such exotic pets were released in the wild, as most of them are non-native.

-If the animal escapes, it may cause nuisance, fear and trauma to the general public.

Some examples of exotic pets include star tortoises, iguanas, tarantulas, snakes, salamanders, slow lorises etc. For a list of pets that are approved to be kept in Singapore, please click here.

Cicadas at CNR

Cicadas feed on plant juices with their piercing and sucking mouthparts and thus are group under homopterans of insects. Have been trying to take some good cicadas photo for a while and the last time was about month ago at Bishan Park. Saw this cicadas yesterday at CNR and managed to capture some more photos of this little singer that make their presence felt beyond the perpetual chorus of their high-pitch calls.




Sunday, February 24, 2008

Semakau Inter-tidal Walk on 23 February 2008

Today is the first tidal walk of the new season. We have quite a big group of 60+ passengers onboard of this nice cruiser. This new boat provide a better environment for interaction between fellow participants and the guides.
To go to the inter-tidal area, we need to pass through a secondary forest. Not far from the entrance, we saw this grape-like fruits. I didn't know we have grapes in Singapore.
Saw this probably a big coachwhip ray (Himantura uarnak) stay motionless. Upon checking, found that is dead and the body has started to decompose.
This gave us a good chance to look at their lethar weapon that stingray use for their defense. (tips: never walk or step onto the seagrass area or when the water is too high that you can see the bottom. Another alternative is follow a experience guide.)
On one of the rock surface, we saw lots of sea slug (Oncidium Sp.) crawling. During high tide, they breath through trapped air under the rocks. As their colour usually matches with the rock surface, you will need to look carefully in order to spot them.
I saw this very rare heart shape cockle (Corculum sp.) Just look at the peraly white shell. Isn't it beautiful?
Ooh! The underside is really like a heart in red too!
We saw this reef eelnear the sea grass lagoon.
Yes. The iconic big sea star - a knobbly sea star (Protoreaster nodosus) One of the group posing with the Star of Semakau.
Also very close with the sea star (both echinoderms phylum, means spiny skin in Greek) a sea cucumber. This is a sypnatid (probably a Polyplectana kefersteinii) with the feeding tentacles out for feeding.
Saw another big Ocellated sea cucumber (Stichopus ocellatus) identified by its distinctive 'eyespots'.
At the coral rubble area, we saw this polka dot (Jorunna funebris) nudibranch.
Another green nudibranch (Ceratosoma sinuata) and lots of orange Gymmodoris rublopabulosa nudibranch.We also saw quite a few flatworm (different from a nudibranch, they don't have exposed gills as the nudibranch)
Another flat wormThis is giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) is getting very rare in Singapore.A very beautiful Fann Wong....oops! Is fan worm in white!And out of no where, I saw this Arcopora corals in white. Bleaching?And on the list, there are many interesting creatures that we saw... Indeed a very fruitful trip!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Carnivorous Plants (Tuas)

Other than the famous carnivorous plants in Singapore - the pitcher plants, I also learned that there is another carnivorous plants which is totally different from pitcher plants.
Carnivorous plants are basically like any other plants, they photosynthesise. They also produce flowers, fruits and seeds. But most carnivorous plants have been adapted to get extra nutrients from their prey especially on the mineral-deficient soils.
I was at the grassland near Tuas West Drive and was amazed by the abundance of this pitcher plants.
The yellow flower that not more than 1cm in diameter is another carnivorous plants - bladderworts, that can be found here at Tuas. often look like miniature orchids and can have stunning colors and great beauty. Bladderworts have no roots. Their flowers are usually yellow and have two petals which look like lips.This bladderwort lives in shallow water with floating tangle of thin green thread and tiny bladders growing from it. It traps and eats mosquito larvae, miniature worms and other little animals it sucks into its underwater bladder-traps.However, the fate of this beautiful place just like their prey - the end is near! The construction will soon cover the entire area. . .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Day 3 CNY at Semakau

We were at Semakau today on 9th February continuing the CNY reef walk.

This sea pandan fruit really looks like a pineapple!
Yes! Is nemo! I saw this famous cartoon character over at 2 different location.
There's a fish in the above photo. Can you see it? Is a toadfish (Halophryne sp.) another fish that ambush its prey.

Another creature that rely heavily on camouflage - hairy crabs(Pilumnus vespertilio)
Red egg crab (Atergatis integerrimus)

and a Euxanthus exsculptus crab.
and polka dot (Jorunna funebris) nudi.This sea cucumber (Stichopus ocellatus) really long. It measured about 45cm before fully extended. 2nd photo showing the sea cucumbers tube-feet.This thorny sea cucumber probably a Stichopus horrensThis Sandfish sea cucumber really big!Another Sandfish sea cucumber was about to burrow into the sbstrate. The length of this sea cucumber is 30cm! What a big sea cucumber!As the night fall, octopus s also out for hunting. We saw quite a number of them. There are more things that was spotted.

Check them out at:

The tide chaser blog & discovery blog.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Day 2 CNY at Pulau Hantu

I continue my reef walk at Pulau Hantu on the 2nd day of CNY. This is also my first trip to Pulau Hantu this year. My last trip there was about a year ago with the Hantu Bloggers.
It was really special to see a school of razor fish in the inter-tidal area. Without the need to put on all the diving gear!

and also this beautiful Orange-banded butterflyfish (Coradion chrysozonus)
A common sea star (Archaster typicus)

Red swimmng crabsand this juveniles flower crab. I'm not sure why there are so many different patterns on the carapace.We saw this cute cuttle fishWe also witness the magician in actions. It changes it's colour so rapidly to match and blend with the environment!We also saw quite a lot of slugs such as the Gymmodoris rublopabulosa above.a Phyllidia pustulosaPolka dot (Jorunna funebris)Discodoris boholensisand a Acanthozoon sp. flatworm.different colours of feather star. Like other echinoderms, feather stars have radial symmetry with numerous arms project from a central disc. However, the major difference as compare to other sea star is their feedings habot. Feather stars are filter feeders and their mouth is on the upperside rather than bottom as with other sea stars.This turban shell almost invisible with the colour almost the same with the substrate.

There are a lot more animals that was spotted. Lets wait for others to put up their blog later.