Saturday, April 26, 2008

Semakau Inter-Tidal Walk on 25 April 2008

Fifty fourth Discovery Posting:

Our first greeting came from the sun rise across the horizon as we set off on a boat to Semakau for another morning inter-tidal walk (picture below).
Today, I was assigned to be the guide of Giant clam with a group of staff and their family and friends from Temasek Secondary (and coincidently the principal of the school was also in Giant clam). And luckily, my English presentation didn't went too bad today (I think... hahaha =P).

Anyway, that matter of my grammar error prone presentation during guiding aside, giant clam were a wonderful group! Here's a group shot of the Giant clams at the sea grass lagoon (picture below), isn't as wacky as what R would normally ask his group to do though =P.
After crossing the sea grass lagoon, our first 'discovery' of the day was a group of common sea stars (picture below)! Discovery Note:
1. I'm always fascinated by their tube feet as they are used for walking, handle food as well as breathing, talk about multi purpose!
2. Sea stars get stressed when out of water, as water to them is like blood to us, so please don’t take them out of the water for too long.
3. They are not as common as their name suggests. This is due to over-collection and habitat lost. So don't take them away from their homes when you see them. =)

4. By the way, the picture above comes from my collection of photos of the common sea star, cause i forgot to take a photo of the ones we saw today. Ops...

Now, our second 'discovery' is a wonderful one, cause we spotted an animal laying eggs. This should be the Spiral Melongena (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. They seem to like to lay eggs on hard surfaces.
2. Each "petal" is one egg capsule.

Today was also quite a slug day too. Why do I say that? That's because we saw a number of slugs, of course! Here are some nudibranches we saw today (picture below)

a Chromodoris nudibranch, third 'discovery' (picture below)
a polka dot nudibranch, Jorunna funebris, fourth 'discovery' (picture below) Gymnodoris rubropapulosa , fifth 'discovery' (picture below)Discovery Note:
1. 'Nudibranch' means 'naked gills'. The name comes from the flower-like gills found on the back of many nudibranchs. These nudibranchs use the gills to breathe.
2. Nudibranchs are related to snails. Little baby nudibranchs are born with shells, but they lose them when they become adults.
3. Most nudibranchs are carnivores, they eat immobile or small, slow-moving prey. Examples are sponges, ascidians, hard corals, soft corals, sea anemones etc.

And today, we also found the star of our walks, the knobbly sea star! Sixth 'discovery'!

"Let's get a quick shot first" (picture below)
"1, 2, 3, giant clams! " (picture below)And before we left, we managed to caught sight of two different species of sea cucumbers, the ocellated sea cucumber is the one on the left while the right one is the sandfish sea cucumber. Let me count, seventh and eighth 'discovery' (picture below)~Discovery Note:
The popular Chinese name for sea cucumber is haishen, which means, roughly, ginseng of the sea.
Being related to the sea stars, sea cucumbers have a soft, wormlike body and range from a few centimeters to 90 centimeters in length.
Unlike the sea star, however, they have no arms but use a cluster of tube-like feet around their mouth to gather food.
To repel predators or when stressed, a sea cucumber might expel their innards or ‘vomit’. And if too much of their innards are expelled, they might die off as a result.
The sandfish sea cucumber is the species of sea cucumber which people consume. But they contain toxins, so it must be properly prepared before consumption.

And as we walked back, we encountered a moon snail and a sand bubbler crab, and also two takers for trying a sea lime. =)

In short, today was a great day due to all Giant Clams and our other participants and guides. Thank you, Giant Clams for being such a great audience! ;)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Discovery @ Semakau on 25 April 2008

Fifty third Discovery Posting:
After almost a month of rushing assignments and examinations, it's finally time again for me to be close to nature again!

This morning, we had students and teachers from Chatsworth International School with us at the inter-tidal zone on Semakau!

Didn't had a lot of photos to show this time round, as i was rushing to find marine creatures for the guides to show our visitors and especially the first 'discovery' (picture below), which LK found in the end. =P
Discovery Note:
1. Some common names for this sea star includes: knobbly sea star and horned sea star. The scientific name for this sea star is Protoreaster nodosus.
2. One reason we call it the knobbly sea star is because of the knobs they possess.
3. Don't ask me why this is called the Protoreaster nodosus, because I'm neither a Latin nor sea star expert. =P
4. More information about this sea star can be found here.

The students and teachers were also treated to the sight of many more things around the area, like jellyfishes, moon snails, nudibranches, common sea stars etc...

In summary, it was an enjoyable trip despite being tired. =)

Last Note:
After reaching back to the mainland, we heard from some friends who were on Cryene Reef today also that they found the sea star which has got almost all of us really excited recently. This is because this sea star is one which has never been seen in Singapore before. The Pentaceraster tuberculatus!

To see pictures of it and many more sea stars, take a visit to KS's blog.