Saturday, May 29, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Unfortunately, the first sight that greeted us was a drift net placed by irresponsible people. It had caught several fishes that were already dead. Drift net fishing not only results in unsustanable fishing, it also causes unnecessary harm to other marine animals that fishermen do not intend to catch. I shared the intention of Project Semakau with the participants, who concurred with the idea of gazetting the shore of Pulau Semakau as a protected area.
We visited the resident Anemone by the edge of the seagrass lagoon. Unfortunately, we didnt see the Anemone shrimp taking shelter under its usual host. The Anemone may look harmless, its lashing tentacles have stinging cells that may cause pain and discomfort to the skin.
Trotting on, I was glad to see the usual suspects at the sandy shore. The Sand-sifting Sea Star (Archaster typicus) is a good burrower of the sand (thus its name) and has a water vascular system to bring nutrients and oxygen through its body, unlike the blood circulation system in human beings.
Friday, April 2, 2010
My first public walk of the year was at Pulau Hantu. My group consists of participants who were not new to intertidal walks as they have joined us on walks at Pulau Semakau previously. Their enthusiasm and interest in nature made guiding very much enjoyable!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
A group of students from Nan Hua high school joined me on a morning of adventure at Pulau Semakau. They were the Green Reps/ Ambassadors of their school, and I hope they will take home the message of conservation, and the 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle) for sharing with their friends.
Once again, we were all intrigued by the rich marine life on our shores - something that many of us do not expect.
Apart from this Dragonfish Sea Cucumber (Stichopus horrens) that the hunter-seekers found, our group also saw 2 others as we waddled through the 'deathzone' of the seagrass lagoon. This species of Sea Cucumber is said to melt and disintegrate when exposed in the sun for too long. It can also shed its skin when stressed, so be sure not to disturb it unnecessarily.
Often thought to be a worm by first-time visitors to our shores, the Synaptid Sea Cucumber (Family Synaptidae) was a great show-and-tell partner. As I was introducing it to the crowd, it gamely showed us how it lashes its beautiful tentacles to feed on detritus in the water.
The participants treaded carefully for fear of stepping on a 'land mine' - the Sandsifting Sea Stars (Archaster typicus) were half buried in the sand. Camouflaging fairly well into the surroundings, we might just step on one if we don't watch our step. While they do not have a brain, and might not feel any pain, we can never be sure, can we?
I must apologise for the photo that doesnt do the Knobbly Sea Star (Protoreaster nodosus) any justice. Apart from being the icon for Project Semakau, our Knobblies often awed our visitors with its vibrant colours, pretty knobs (that gave its common name) and its sheer size (it can grow up to 30cm wide!). This Sea Star has a calcified body which makes it difficult for predators to prey on it.
Although mildly venomous, be sure not to touch the Black Long-spined Sea Urchin (Diadema setosum) as the spines can give painful stings if stepped on. The brittle and needle-like spines makes it challenging to extract it from our flesh too. In addition to being a defense mechanism, the spines , in partnership with the Sea Urchin's tube feet, helps it to walk.
My first time seeing a Juvenile Noble Volute (Cymbiola nobilis) whose shell is of a much darker shade. We were really lucky to see a pretty adult too. Unfortunately, this snail's existance is threatened due to habitat loss and over-collection of its beautiful shell - I have seen ,on several occasions, bazaar stalls selling spoons made from the volute's shell!
The Spider Conch (Lambis Lambis) may look unattractive at first glance, but I never fail to hear the visitors' 'Wahhhhh' when I turn it over to show its underside. Named after the spikes on the shell's edge that resembles the legs of a spider, the Spider Conch has a strong operculum and foot that allows it to pole-vault away on the surface.
Our adorable Polka-dot Nudibranch (Jorunna funebris) made a guest appearance too. Named after its exposed naked gills (the feather like structures), Nudibranchs are sea slugs and actually have shells when they are young, but sheds their shell thereafter. They thus develop other defense mechanism such as having warning predators that they are distasteful or poisonous with their bright colours.
Its my first encounter with this Nudibranch (and I believe its a first record for Semakau!). Not quite sure what species this is, but it certainly is huge, almost as long as the length of my 26cm chopstick!
Nearby, we also saw these egg ribbons, not sure if it was the eggs of the Nudibranch, but certainly a good sign that our shores are thriving with life!
Occasionally mistaken for the Upside-down Jellyfish, the Hell's Fire Anemone (Actinodendron sp.) is one you don't want to mess with. Aptly described by one volunteer, the sting from this Anemone burns you like how a fire will, and hurts like 'hell'. Although I have no personal experience to speak of, I sure don't want a taste of that feeling. One can identify the Anemone by its radiating white stripes from its centre disk, and its branching triangular-shaped tentacles.