Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Walk into the Mangroves

112th Discovery Posting:

About 2 years ago, I attended a sharing session on a study done on face-banded sesarmine from a professor. I cannot remember the name of the professor but I do remember that he mentioned that he studied these crabs in Mandai Mangroves. And from then onwards, I held this hope that I would get to see these crabs up close and also visit Mandai Mangroves. I never managed to catch a sight of these crabs in my mud 'dips' in mangroves and never could find out the exact location of Mandai Mangroves until today...

Today (7th Mar), with the guide of some friends, I had the chance to explore the Mandai Mangroves and find the face-banded sesarmine crabs.
Will focus more on animals this posting since I did not really take photos of plants. =D

As we walked into the mangroves, one of the first few organisms we spotted, First 'discovery' will be mangrove horseshoe crabs (picture below).
One of the misconceptions we might have about the horseshoe crab is that it's a kind of crab due to its name. Actually, the horseshoe crab is more related to spiders and scorpions. An interesting fact about the horseshoe crab is that it has existed on Earth even before the dinosaurs! And if you are wondering if that pointy tail of it is as dangerous like the tails of stingrays, you need not worry. Their tails are not for stinging but for helping themselves to flip over if they end up underside down.

If you are interested to read more about them, click here.

The second organism, a small one was first spotted by RY. It is a mangrove big-jawed spider if I am correct (picture below). Second 'discovery'.
They are spiders commonly found in our mangroves. You might not spot them as they stay motionless on a leaf or branch and their stick/branch-like appearance. Although both genders of this kind of spider has big jaws, the males jaws are particularly elongated and are equipped with a spur each. They help them in locking the jaws of the female during mating.

After about a slow walk into the mangroves, I finally come across the face-banded sesarmine crabs (pictures below)! Third 'discovery'!Their name is as such due to the bright green or blue (I think I saw yellowish ones as well) band on their faces. Very interestingly, the bands on their faces can reflect light! And a study suggests that the different colours of their bands plays a role in sexual recognition. It is reported that the males of these crabs (to be more specific: 2 species) have more intense blue facial bands while the females have more green facial bands.

To read more about them, click here.

In conclusion, Mandai Mangrove is a really nice mangrove where you can find a great number of crabs and a number of mangrove plants (including rare ones). However, it is not for the average urban dweller, as you will get really muddy and even sink then stuck in the mud at times. And of course, the stink of mud after the trip and mosquito bites. All other things aside, it is a great mangrove. =D
Thanks to everyone who made it for the trip. I bet all of us had a nice and muddy time! =P

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