Sunday, July 26, 2009

Semakau over the last weekend of July

101st Discovery Posting:

Over this weekend (25th and 26th of July), together with volunteers from HSBC, schools and public, we conducted a survey for Project Semakau on Sat morning, had a BBQ and night exploration and an exploration inter-tidal walk on Sun morning.

In this posting, I will feature some of critters we encounter.

First 'discovery' would a knobbly sea star (picture below). I only managed to spot one throughout the trip, maybe it's because we are not surveying the side which has more knobbly sea stars. But still I found it strange, as by observation, the habitat is quite similar so by logic there should be more of them. Hmm... well, either there must be a good explanation behind this or I was just unlucky or 'cock' eye...hahaha. Anyway,
Discovery Note:
1. They can only be found on certain islands on the Northern and Southern side of Singapore, therefore, they can be considered as uncommon.
2. Interestingly, their knob patterns can be used to tell one knobbly sea star from another.
3. Like all sea stars, they require sea water for survival, so do not remove them from sea water if possible.
4. Read more about them @

Second 'discovery' is a curryfish sea cucumber (picture below). If you ask me, it really looks like the sandfish sea cucumber turned to the dark side...hahaha...

*Update: this (picture below) may be instead a variation of the sandfish sea cucumber... maybe it's really one which turned to the dark side... too much star wars for me.... =P Discovery Note (this is only applicable for a curryfish sea cucumber):
1. Like the sandfish sea cucumber, the curryfish sea cucumber is also harvested for the restaurant trade.
2. According to wildfacts, this is one of the sea cucumbers that is harvested in Malaysia for 'Air Gamat', a local health tonic which is said to aid healing and other ailments. As a result to this, Langkawi now has low numbers of the curryfish sea cucumber.
3. Read more about this sea cucumber @

The third 'discovery' is something that usually occurs in season and right now, it is in season, and that is the upside down jellyfish (pictures below).

Here's the top side (picture below)Here's the underside (picture below)
Discovery Note:
1. The upside down jelly is usually found in its upside down position.
2. This is because there are algae living in the tentacles of the jelly. And these algae shares its food with the jelly in exchange for shelter and probably minerals.
3. Read more about this interesting jelly @

Fourth 'discovery' is something related to the jelly, this is a leathery anemone (picture below) Discovery Note:
1. This is related to the jelly as they share the common characteristic of having stings which can leave you with a nasty rash or something even worse if you come into contact with them.
2. Like the upside down jelly, this anemone can harbor algae in its tentacles and the relationship they share is similar to the relationship shared between the upside down jelly and algae in them.
3. Do take note that not all jellies and anemones have algae living in their tentacles.
4. One of the way to ID this anemone is to look out for the pink tips it has on its tentacles.
5. Read more about this anemone @

Fifth 'discovery' is a colony of animals, a hard coral (picture below).A close up view of the same coral (picture below).Discovery Note:
1. In simple words, corals are made up of a group of a particular animal called the polyp.
2. Now if you look at the photo (close up view) above, in each 'ring' lives one of this animal.
3. For your info, corals are related to jellies and anemones. Yes, they have stings too, so don't touch them.
4. Corals, jellies and anemones belong to a group of animals called cnidarians. If you are interested to read more about them, you can go to
5. Now you may be wondering why some corals have bright colours. This is probably due to bioluminescence.
6. Basically, the idea behind this is close why we apply sunblock when we visit the beaches, to prevent getting sun burnt. To be a little specific, this colouring they have prevents the corals from certain wavelengths of colours which could harm them.

Besides hard corals, you can also see a number of soft corals over at Semakau, here's some of them (picture below).
Finally, the sixth 'discovery' is a firefly (picture below)! I do apologize for the blur picture, I do admit I should have taken more photos of this really interesting insect.
Discovery Note:
1. Fire flies are able to chemically produce 'cold light' which contains no ultraviolet or infrared rays.
2. These lights which they produce are used either for attract mates or prey.
3. Although more commonly called fire flies, they are actually winged beetles and NOT flies.