Monday, August 24, 2009

Semakau Walk on 23 August 09

The sky was clear and the weather was perfectly good for an early morning walk when we arrived at Semakau on Sunday morning although it was flashing with lightning & thunder roaring the whole night before.
I'm guiding students from Dunman High on the rich biodiversity of the inter-tidal area at Semakau. It was still pitch dark when we walk to the entree point which is about 2.5km from the Visitor Centre. The sky is bright when we reach the forest entry point and we have no problem walking through the forest without turning on our torch light.
This whelk with the siphon fully extended actively sniffing for food when we reach the inter-tidal area.
This is the first time for many of the students to step into an inter-tidal area, it is also an eye-opener for them to get to know the rich biodiversity of our local shores. All of them were very enthusiastic!
The word adaptations, camouflage, predator, prey, habitats, conservation suddenly become hot topic for the rest of the morning after I show them this little Flathead that blend in with the substrate and almost invisible when it is not moving.Cowry is another fist sighting for many of the students and it has become very rare over at the mainland due to over collection. It has now can be found mainly only over at off-shore island such as Semakau.These are some of the sea cucumber that we saw yesterday at Semakau. Most sea cucumber are mildly toxic and must be processed properly before consumption.This is the underside of the spider conch, beautiful right? However, spider conch is another master of camouflage. Just look at the colour of the shell and the seaweed that is growing on it. It just look like a piece of rock when it is on the normal position.The Common sea star that no longer common over at the mainland. They too are now can be found mainly only over at offshore island.
Another piece of rock look-a-like creature. This hairy crabs blend in well with the substrate, is very difficult to spot them if they don't move. When in water, the hair will break the outline and will achieve the same camouflaging effects.
Another beautiful creature that we saw at Semakau - flatworm
Different from the flatworm, this Marginata nudibranch is having the exposed gill on the back. This is how they got their name of naked gill (nudibranch).This giant clam seem to grow bigger compare to my last visit.The students are delighted to be able to see one of the largest and sea star in Singapore - the Knobbly Sea Star.Not sure what happen to this fish, it was motionless on the dry area when we saw it.We have been seeing this juvenile cushion star for the last 2, 3 months.
Another common relationship on the reef is this commensal relationship. The anemone shrimp are protected from predator with the help from the anemones.Another group photo before we end the walk on Semakau. With the cool weather, it was indeed a very refreshing and fruitful trip.

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