Sunday, September 20, 2009

Semakau Inter-Tidal Walk on 19 Sep 2009

104th Discovery Entry:

It is the time of the year again when the lower low tide of the day changes from the morning to the afternoon/evening.

This also means that we (inter-tidal nature guides and explorers in Singapore and probably also around the region) don't need to wake up at unearthly hours just to 'catch' the low tide. This luxury will last us for about 6 months before we return to the cycle of waking up SUPER early again. Anyway, it's great that the 'evening tides' are here.

Now back to the main focus of this post. Just yesterday, together with other RMBR nature guides and 50+ participants, we went for an evening inter-tidal walk at Semakau.

So our first 'discovery' of the day was this juvenile horseshoe crab (picture below). They are really interesting not only because that they have blue colored blood and it is also because they have existed on earth longer than us and the dinosaurs. Although we call them crabs, they are not actually crabs but more related to spiders.
Moving on closer to the seagrass meadows, we found three things which our hunter seekers have found for us. And two of them were flatworms, and that's the name for my group for the day! Second 'discovery' (picture below).As their name suggest, flatworms are really flat. This can help them to squeeze or move into narrow and small spaces to find food and at the same time to hide from their predators. At the same time, being really flat means that their bodies are easily tore when handled, so please handle them with them or don't handle them at all. One really interesting thing about them is that flatworms are hermaphrodites. In really simple terms, this means that a flat worm is both a guy and gal. In specific terms, flatworms have both the male and female reproductive organs.

After glancing at 'ourselves', we waddled across the seagrass meadows and I stopped everyone for a stuck-in-the-seagrass-meadow group photo shot (picture below). Here's the wacky version (picture below).After crossing the seagrass meadows, we immediately saw three garlic bread not ginger bread (I think I told my participants the wrong name for this yesterday, so sorry) or the sandfish sea cucumber. Our third 'discovery' (picture below).This kind of sea cucumber is one of the ones which are commonly collected as a Chinese delicacy. However, it would be good for you to know that it needs to be properly processed before it can be eaten as tests have conclude that sea cucumbers contain toxins.

In every guided walk to Semakau, we have to highlight and remind our visitors to mind their step as they might step on the mine, ops, I mean star field (picture below).
Star field refers to the community of common sea stars which lives on substrate of the inter-tidal zone of Semakau. Here's one of them (picture below).It was a star-studded star, as we saw not only lots of common sea stars, we also came across...

Not one but two juvenile cushion stars (pictures below)...The yet-to-be-identifed sea star (picture below)...At least 4 knobbly sea stars(picture below)...And so how could we miss the chance to take a group shot with the sea stars themselves (picture below).And while exploring around by ourselves, one of the boys found a cuttlefish hiding amongst the sea weed, GREAT JOB! And I managed to spot this really beautiful greenish sunflower mushroom coral (picture below). As I mentioned to the flatworms, mushroom corals are usually made up of one or a few polyps compared to a lot of polyps in a coral.

To round up, yesterday was really a cool walk in terms of the weather and the participants (and of course if we minus the mosquito experience =P). Although the clouds blocked our view of a great sunset, it did provide us with photo opportunities of a different style (picture below). Thank you all Flatworms again for providing me with another great guiding experience. See all of you around if possible. =D

1) Read Tidechaser's entry for this trip for other interesting stuff:

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