Friday, May 30, 2008

Pulau Tioman Field Study Camp with HC

I went to Pulau Tioman with RMBR on a Field Study Camp for Hwa Chong Institution from 26 to 29 May 2008. This is also my first time attending a Field Study Camp kind of activities. I get to share my knowledge and experience on seashore ecology & biodiversity and in return, I gained even more experience & knowledge thru sharing. I can't help but also gained some kg.....sigh! Blame it on the good food provided by the resort.... :-)
I woke up at 3am on 26 May and it was the 3rd day to wake up at this hour after the guiding at Semakau over the week end. Nevertheless, myself and the rest of the guides are very energetic when we meet at the meeting point.
We set off as per schedule and arrived at Tanjung Gemuk to take ferry transfer to be transferred to Pulau Tioman.
Day One :
Once everyone have checked in, we start the program with a rather easy walk around the resort to get everybody orientated on the area that we are exploring for the field study camp.A short briefing by Ron before the walk. The walk covers seashore, mangrove forest.
The students posing near the entrance to the boardwalk.
After dinner, we explore the mangrove to observe and study the nocturnal animals. The walk was full of surprises, we even saw mud lobster (Thalassina anomala) out from its mound. Is my first time to see a mud lobster in such a close distance!Another one of the very common nocturnal animals is the Dog-face water snake. SJ demonstrate how to handle a dog-faced water snake.The students have no fear of this cold blooded snake with mild venomous.
We continue the walk to river mouth and the sea shore before the end of Day One Program.
Day Two :
Due to the change of the tide timing, we have the inter-tidal walk in the morning instead of at night. Although the water visibility is very good, the biodiversity here not as rich as the shore we have at Semakau or Cek Jawa. Howeer, this shore do have some of the animals that are rarely seen in Singapore such as the Pinkfish sea cucumber.
Lecture on Inter-tidal ecology after lunch to wrap up the morning inter-tidal walk.
The program in the afternoon will be field trip for forest and fresh water ecology.
It was raining rather heavily at times when we are having the forest walk.
Afte the forest walk, we continue with fresh water ecology. The students were required to record the number and types of animals that they found in a fresh water stream. There are several types of shrimps and crabs in the stream. Sadly, we don't have a fresh water stream as big as the one in Tioman. The students were then asked to write a nature journal to reflect on what they have experienced.
The students were also asked to get their safety vest and snorkelling gears ready for tomorrow session. Photo showing JH & SY brief students on safety procedure as well as how to put on the various gears.
Day Three :
We proceed to Renggis for snorkelling after breakfast. There were lots of damsel fish, parrot fish, wrase and sea urchin. We also saw 2 Crown of thorns, cushion star and anemones with resident clown fish.
From the smile on their face, they are sure enjoy this snorkelling session.
Some more happy faces...
The students were given the whole afternoon to get their presentation on Ecotourism & nature conservation ready before dinner.
Various method were used by different group during the presentations. I'm sure the students are now have a better understanding on ecotourism & conservations as well as what they can do from the personal level.Group photo of the students on this Field Study Camp with the teachers.

Day Four :

This is the Free & Easy day before we check out and return to Singapore.

These are some of the photos that I took on this trip.The students take nothing but memories.... some wake up early at 5am sitting on beach enjoying the calm and fresh morning. Some took photos of their footprints, shodows.... before we take the ferry back to Tanjung Gemok.

Waiting for bus at Tanjung Gemok terminal.We have a wonderful lunch before returning to Singapore. Thanks to RMBR, the HC's teachers and students and fellow guides in making this trip such a memorable one. I enjoy this trip very much! Hope to see the students at our nature area in Singapore!

Read more about it on Raffles Museum News.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Moon Snail Dissapearing Act

This is the last clip on my Amazing Changi Series. This clip show the moon snail can burrow into the sand in very short timing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cushion Star at Semakau

Is really a long time since we last saw cushion star on Semakau! As cushion star feed on corals, it is usually found at deeper water by divers. I saw them over at Hantu just opposite Semakau last month when I dive with The Hantu Blogger.

After searching for so long, Ron finally found one today! Although is slightly smaller than the one we usually found sometimes ago at Semakau, this is really a good sign. Hope to see more of them in the coming tidal walks.
Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae)
This is another sea cucumber that I don't remember seen it at Semakau before. This probably a Holothuria impatiens sea cucumber. It release thick nylon string like things when we stand near. This is the defense mechanism of sea cucumber. The white nylon string like thing is very sticky and strong. Once sticked, it is very difficult to remove. This will confuse their predator and give them some time to burrow or hide from their predator.

We however didn't manage to find any of its relative - Sandfish (Holothuria scabra) sea cucumber.Instead we saw this Stonefish (Actinopyga lecanora) at the sea grass bed.
We also saw quite a few jelly fish. However, what caught my attention is not the jelly fish. But the small fish that with the same colour swimming under the umbrella and within the tentacles. I have no idea what kind of relationship between the jelly fish and the small fish.
Can you see the fish swim between the tentacles of the jelly fish?After taking a close look, I still don't know the id of this small fish.Other interesting find such as this Giant clam (Tridacna squamosa)

Chromodoris lineolata nudibranchKnobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus)Big colourful gobiesSeveral flatwormMushroom corals (Heliofungia actiniformis) with very bright green colourNot forgetting lots of lovy Common Sea Star (Archaster typicus)I also saw this small insect that sing very loud - cicada while on the way back. They are the one that make forest sound so uniquely.

I'll be back here again tomorrow to share this wonderful creatures with more people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dollar That Moves. . .

This is another clip from the Amazing Changi Series

Without physical 'leg', Sand Dollars (Arachnoides placenta) can move faster than what you expect. Take a look at the video.

Brittle Star Found on Antarctic Seamount

Tens of millions of brittle-stars, a relative of the starfish, were found carpeting the flat top of a 750m (2,500ft) seamount. The habitat is part of the 870-mile (1,400km) Macquarie Ridge, a range of marine mountains running south from New Zealand. - TIMES ONLINE

A teeming horde of brittle stars has been discovered atop an undersea mountain chain near Antarctica, challenging long-held assumptions about the ecological role of such submerged peaks, known as seamounts. - NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC NEWS

An undated image shows a few of the many millions of brittle stars recently found on a shallow Antarctic seamount, or submerged mountain range.The unique find occurred as part of the Census of Marine Life project, a ten-year survey of ocean organisms.

Photograph by NIWA © 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Feeding Colourful Sea Cucumber

This is another video clip on the amazing Changi beach.

The feeding tentacles are out to capture suspended detritus and transfer to the mouth at the centre. The feeding tentacles are actually their modified tube feet.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moon Snail Feeding

Watch carefully, the Moon snail release a bivalves after consumed and go burrowing! Moon snail have a very beautiful appearance, smooth and gloosy shell actually a fierce predator.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Helmet Shell at Changi?

I was back at Changi again to catch the low tide before it ended. It was as crowded although it was raining heavily earlier this morning. The shore are packed with swimming, fishing and pick & choose activities.
Due to the rain earlier on, most of the animals had burrowed to stay away from the fresh water. Animals that do not burrow such as fan shells just like sitting duck - have to endure the fresh water and just waiting to be picked by predators (to me, human is their biggest predators).
This sea cucumber was half burrowed when I spotted it.
So as this Moon snail.This lump of seaweed looks like a sea cucumber when I found it near the sea grass bed.After a few wash... yes is a sea cucumber!and another Ball Sea CucumberThe little pink sea cucumbers are the only animals that can be found easily. They just attached to sea grass or anything that is not moving. This sea cucumber extending the tenticles to feed.I have no idea what shell is this but it do looks like a helmet shell.This is the only Striped hermit crab that I saw this morning.Saw this tiny Moons crab swimming from one place to another so I pick it up to take his photo. It dissapear immediately the minute I put it back to water. Moons crab with all leg flattened can swim faster than swimming crabs and burrow in lightning speed!This flower crab almost invisible when it stay motionless on the seagrass bed. There are a few anemones here and there but the colour show that they are not very healthy. Too much fresh water again?

Hundreds of Geographic sea hares that we saw on Friday are no way to be found. I wonder are all of them burrowed into the sands or they prefer to stay at the deeper water?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Changi Tidal Walk

I was one of the guide for students from MGS sharing with them on plants & animals living in the beach and marine habitat.
There are lots of small sand balls on the beach creation of Sand bubbler crabs. Sand Bubbler crabs eat thin coating of detritus from sands and processed sands are discarded in small balls.

We saw quite a few number and spicies of sea cucumbers.The Ball Sea Cucumber that we saw are usually about the size of tennis ball. This is the first time seeing a Ball Sea Cucumber with the size of a coconut!

There are lots of white sea urchins on the sea grass bed. The pure white sea urchin,

red banded white sea urchin andsome in purple!A beautiful Striped hermit crab. Unlike other true crabs, Hermit crabs have a long & soft abdomen and need a shell for protection. They are vulnerable to predators and drying out without a shell.The hermit crab on the left is too big to stay in his existing shell. Hermit crabs has to move out of its shell into a larger one when they grow bigger. The two hermit crabs above are in the process of what I call a 'agreesive negotiation'. Looks like the smaller hermit crab on the right refuse to exchange its shell.

This is the reason why we should not remove any shells (even is empty) from the shore. Doing so will have a impact on the hermit crabs. They will have one house less to stay in!The Moon crab ( Ashtoret lunaris) with all their legs flattened to help them swim faster and burrow faster into sands in lighting-speed!Elbow crab (Parthenope longimanus) has two super long pincers but are slow moving by nature. They usually hide in mud or sand among the seaweeds and are very difficult to spot them.Unlike other anemones, this Swimming Anemones do not live in tubes and usually found in seagrass bedsA Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis) can grow up to about 15cm and prey on bivalves.We saw 3 baby Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus) today. The one on top similar to Knobbly that was found at Semakau and other part of Singapore and 2 more with slightly different colour and the 'knob' arrangement. Check it out on my previous posting on 12 April 08 and 9 May 08. Related to sea stars, Sand Dollar (Arachnoides placenta) usually burried in sand.This fish with a very beautiful and striking dots suddently emerge from the sand. I have no idea of the id.The Geographica Sea Hares (Syphonota geographica) really in the seasons. Every few steps you'll sure to find one. They feed on algae on the intertidal area and like other sea hares, they will release purple ink to shocks and confuse their predator.Only the eyes and mouth partly exposed waiting for small animal that crosses its path.
The eerie face slowly appear after a few rinse by incoming sea waters.The Stargazer suddently open his big mouth and 'spit' out water and sands that was washed in by the tide. This suprise move really send the students start screaming! OMG... the head is as big as a bowl!

Before we knew it, is time to return to shore as the tide is coming in. It was a very enjoyable walk.Capturing that happy moment before leaving this wonderful shore with such a lovely biodiversity.