Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Discovery @ Sentosa on 9 Feb 2009

Eighty Seventh Discovery Posting:

On the just past Monday, together with G, we visited Sentosa. Actually this was suppose to be some sort of a reece trip for an upcoming eco-camp, but I used this chance to also to take a long-awaited look at the shores of Sentosa again. Especially the area where the construction of the Sentosa IR is going on nearby (picture below).
If you look closely at the photo, you will spot a huge barrier like object. I suppose that is a barrier set up by the developers of the IR to prevent silt and other particles from destroying the life found on the side I was exploring. And I have to say it is working to quite a good extent, as most of the corals which I have seen before the development began are still around (I might be wrong in this, so do feel free to amend on what I have written here).

And first 'discovery' is two different species of hard corals (picture below). Despite going through some training on the ID-ing of corals, I still suck at it...anyway, Discovery Note:
1. Corals are animals.
2. They belong to a group of ancient and simple group of animals known as Cnidarians (pronounced as "nai-day-rians") Jellyfishes and sea anemones are also from this phylum Cnidaria.
3. Cnidarians are aquatic and they share a common and unique feature of having stinging cells used for protection and catching of prey.
They are generally composed of more than one tiny animal, probably tens / hundreds / thousands of them in one coral structure, that's why you have heard of "Coral Colony".
5. These tiny animals are called polyps which feed on microscopic plankton or small organisms.
6. Coral hosts colourful zooxanthellae algae in them.
7. These algae form a symbiotic relationship (one which they help one another) with the corals.
8. Through photosynthesis, these algae generate "food" for themselves and pass the extras to the coral which will help to the coral to grow into a larger colony. In return, the coral provides a "home" for these algae.
9. Thus, corals are usually found in clear and shallow waters, as sufficient sunlight is essential in photosynthesis.
10. Read more about hard corals @

As I walked around the area, I soon came across a little heron (ID made known to me by Nov, thanks!) and it's second 'discovery'.
Discovery Note:
1. Little herons' diet mainly consist of small fish and crustacea (mainly crabs). That explains why I saw one at Sentosa.
2. They also feed on amphibians and insects and any other edible tidbits, including small mammals.
3. They tend to roost alone (stay alone) and are highly territoral.
4. Read more about them @

A surpirse find of the day would be two sand dollars, third 'discovery' (picture below).
Discovery Note:
1. Living sand dollars are coated in fine, harmless spines that made them very velvety.
2. The spines are movable and are used to dig into the sand or move around.
3. The dense layer of spines also helps to keep off sand and silt so there is a flow of oxygenated water across the body.

4. Read more about them @

I especially love walking along this stretch of the Sentosa shores... (picture below)
Reason being that I can look at the interesting rock structures created by the waves and the weather (picture below). After walking pass one of my favourite parts, we came to another part of the natural shore on Sentosa and bumped into two teachers from RJC who were reecing to check if the place is suitable for a biology class session. It's heartening to hear that they are thinking of introducing this part of Singapore to their students, as not many students know that our waters are actually very much alive.

The exploration soon continued and soon came the fourth 'discovery', a fan worm (picture below).Discovery Note:
1. They are segmented worms like earthworms.
2. The feathery things are actually its modified tentacles which helps it to gather food.
3. They feed on detridus and other micro organisms in the seas.
4. Read more about them @

Although there was no slugs sighting, there were a number of crab sightings though, fifth, sixth and seventh 'discovery' are crabs.

A Hairy Crab (picture below)
Discovery Note:
1. The hairs of the hairy crab traps sediment so it blends 'almost' perfectly with its surroundings.
2. We also call this crab the ‘teddy bear crab’. =)
3. The hairy crab eats seaweeds and poisonous zoanthids, which makes the crab mildly poisonous too!
4. This is NOT the same hairy crab you eat as a seafood.
5. Read more about them @

A red egg crab (picture below)
Discovery Note:
1. Red Egg crabs are highly poisonous and contain toxins which are not destroyed by cooking.
2. Since other animals don't particularly want to eat this crab as it is poisonous, it is slow moving and doesn't really bother to hide.
3. Read more about them @

A mosaic crab (picture below)
Discovery Note:
1. This is one of the most poisonous crab in Singapore.
2. Thus, I give the strongest advice not to eat this, although biologists say that everything can be eaten once, but they do not mention what will happen to you after that meal...
3. Did I mention that the toxins cannot be 'destoryed' by high temperature...
4. Read more about them @

As they always say, time flies when you're having fun. Thus very soon, it was time to leave the inter-tidal zone to avoid being washed away by the waves and also the time to enjoy a beautiful sunset (picture below).PS: Thanks to G for the company and making the trip laughter-filled. =D

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