Archive for April, 2010

Alien Gals on the Sidewalk (incomplete)

Last Sunday morning my family decided to take a stroll along the kallang riverside around the Dakota area. as with most group outings, since i had my camera i got left behind like always.

But first we had breakfast! at a large and crowded hawker centre nearby. i went to get food, but when i returned to my seat i found it was already occupied..

“I’m in your seat, taking up buttspace”

Salticids, or jumping spiders, are really, in my opnion, the cutest spiders around, with their two big beady anterior median eyes, they kinda look like teddy bears (not many would agree though i presume). and i’ve mentioned their inquisitive eyes before!

A contemplative salticid. I assume he was thinking curious thoughts.

though not as brightly coloured or beatiful as some oether members of its family, this guy (being apltly named the common housefly catcher) kept flies at bay! so we could feast in peace (:

Thanks dude.

“no problem. yay me!”

At the table next to ours, a horde of Javan mynas were scaveging. the mynas we usually see are these guys, and are actually aliens (i.e. invasive species), speculated to have been introduced a long time ago by virtue of singapore being a port city. over the years they have outcompeted and are slowly replacing the Common Mynas (now not so common) which are ironically also invasive species.

i was walking aloing the sidewalk when i noticed this. the poor lizard mustve been cemented over 😦

along the entire stretch from dakota to stadium station, the pavements were crowded with Giant African Land Snails (crushed and uncrushed), which i will henceforth refer to as GALS for punny convinience.

gals , like the javan mynas are also invasive alien species, stemming from well, Africa. they’re also listed as one of the worst invasive species on the planet, ending up all over the world and almost completely replacing all other native snails.

they are also very often crushed, due to their large size that makes them more likely to be stepped on as you foot would have a higher chance of landing on them, out of all spaces on the sidewalk (though you’d think their large size would also make them more visible and thus more avoidable. but in singapore, only people with low self esteem, people who are in love with their shoes or bugfans like me would bother looking down when walking).

one of em gals sitting right smack in the middle of a busy foot/bike path, she avoided getting wheeled by 3 seperate bikes cos i was kowtowing in front of it to get the shot.

face of evil!

Curious Cricket and more – Macritchie 09/04/10

i had time to kill before biosoc camp last friday, so i decided to bring a whole bunch of people (8 this time o.o)

It was nice to see some familiar faces, as well as some new ones (:

The first thing we saw was this beetle with a green head and thorax, but blue elytra which i have not seen before and which i cannot ID D:

Then there were the usual spiders lining the boardwalk on the shrubbery next to the water.

Familiar face!

and a new one (although its face really can’t be seen. haven’t seen that abdominal pattern before!)

The forest ants were up and about as usual

Communication!

and here’s a video of one of them preening (:

Watch it in HD! bah you can hear my awful case of the sniffles D:

Hiding under a leaf was this Common Cricket, which i have come to refer to collectively as Jiminies (:

For a cricket, this guy kept pretty still its eyes seemed fixed on my lens, following it and staring with a strange intense curiosity. (usually i only get this from jumping spiders)

okay so hes not really looking at the camera in this shot.

last but not least, it was nice catching up with my favourite pitcher plant, Victreebel, who’s still hanging around (:

One of Victreebel’s many pitchers, no ants this time.

It’s really fortunate to have such a wonderful place so near school, and its kindof a pity how most of the students don’t know what they’re missing. even those who to go to the place don’t usually look out for life, hopefully programs like ecolit and biophilia will have some impact on students’ mindsets (:

Sentosa again!

Well last saturday was about the 14th time i’ve been back to Sentosa’s Tanjong Rimau within the past 2 years, this time to conduct a recce together with Walks of Life, a guiding project in our school.

When we first approached Rasa Sentosa, there were signs saying no entry and stuff, but we figured since TR was a public area the signs only applied to the resort, so we just bashed.

Despite the low tides today (0.2), we didn’t see as much as the last time we came, but there were still new encounters!

Brown or Floral Egg Crab (Atergatis floridus), we’ve seen em on almost every trip we’ve made down to TR! Glad to see they’re still active enough to come out to greet us :D. like all xanthid crabs though, they are toxic, and cannot be eaten (not even after cooking/boiling).  they are also listed as Vulnerable in the Singapore Red Data Book.

A stunning Pimply Pyllid Nudibranch (what an unglam name), (Phyllidiella pustulosa). The bumps may be pink, red, grey, green or blue, in this case Bluish Green! or turquoise.  this guy we haven’t seen here before 🙂

A not so clear photo of a Worm-Eel! these guys have been seen quite often as well, and they swim realy fast! had to chase after it and burst mode.

Headland of Tanjong Rimau, it was around here where i turned over i huge rock that was riddled with holes only to unearth (by accident!) what seemed like a nest of Marine Spiders (Desis martensi)! the rock was crawling with spiders about o.5 cm in size and grey, and in one of the crevices we spied the humongous brood mother which was  about the size of my thumb, the largest ive seen so far! it was also the mature brownish yellow colour. though i didn’t manage to get any pics (the babies scuttled away really fast and the brood mom retreated back into reclusion), here are some representative photos from the last trip.

Under that same rock there was something else that was of an unnatrually large size..

It may look like a long worm, but these are actualy the feet of a brittle star! (body not in picture). its feet were longer than the length from my wrist to the tip of my middle finger o.o

after a while we realised it was kindof late alr, so we decided to ascend a nearby hill to try to cross back to the otehr side of TR where our bags were.

Sam and Joce ascending the steep slippery hill

When we reached the top…

We found ourselves in Fort Siloso. we just didnt know it.. yet.

one of the staff members walked by and eyed us suspiciously.

then as we walked further in, 3 staff members approached as asked if we needed help, to which we responded that we were trying to find the shortest route back to the other side of the shore.

“This is Fort Siloso.. and we’re not open yet O.o”

so we had entered Fort Siloso before opening hours.. without paying the entrace fees nonetheless.

we made our way out and realised the gantry gate thing wasnt even open yet.

It was about 9.45 when this photo was taken.

we made our way back to TR from the Rasa Sentosa side again, but this time we were stopped by cleaners who kept insisting the entry was not permitted.

“but our bags are down there!”

“no, not allowed to come in here.”

sam and wilnard ran ahead but joce and i had to climb down the rocks at the side to get back to the shore.

so we got our bags, and were walking out via RS again when these two important looking chinese and caucasian dudes stopped us and kindof scolded us.

apparently there would be construction work at RS, and all access, even to TR, would not be permitted D:

This is bad cos WOL has a walk planned at TR for the 17th!

i really hope that the construction won’t impact the shore in any way, and that access won’t be blocked off for too long.

in the meantime, i’ll miss the place ):

Sea Bunnies!

Sea Hares (Order Anaspidea) are large sea slugs found in both our Northern and Southern shores, and are apparently seasonal. though they are also mollucs, Sea Hares are NOT nudibranchs!

This couple was found at Cyrene Reef (i forgot to post in the cyrene post)

This should be an Extraordinary Sea Hare (Aplysia extraordinaria), correct me if i’m wrong! if you look carefully you can see there are actually two of them, a smaller one atop a larger one. Sadly, Sea Hares often die soon after copulation/laying eggs.

Seagrass beds, as mentioned in the previous post, provide breeding and nursery grounds for many forms of marine life, and are vital to sustaining life in the sea and indirectly our supply of seafood, so look after our waters, and keep them clean!

Star Studded Cyrene!

Yesterday was my first time at Cyrene Reef, and it was amazing 🙂

Went with Teamseagrass for a monitoring session (work before play!), thanks for inviting me Ms Ria!

Sunrise at Cyrene

One of the many Knobbly Sea Stars (Protoreaster nodosus) all over the place at Cyrene


Cyrene reef is a submerged reef (meaning it is submerged at high tides, but at low tides, BAM! a 1km or so stretch of land suddenly appears in the middle of nowhere), a 30 minute boat ride south of Singapore, and is surrounded by the heavy industries on Jurong Island and the monstrous refineries of Pulau Bukom.

Joo Yong and Marcus in the foreground, industrial monsters in the background.

Despite all that, life at Cyrene is still incredibly diverse, our transect having 5-6 species of seagrass (usually we only get two) and making us spend more time trying to discern them (took us an hour!).

The boat departed for Cyrene at 6 (had to wake up at 4.30 a.m.) and when we had reached, we still had to pile into a tiny little dinghy to make our landing. then we trudged our way to our sites.

Marcus, being himself.

Monitoring started at 7 and ended at 8

Ms Siti working on the transect next to ours, with more industrial monsters in the background.

The Spoon Seagrasses (Halophila ovalis) here are the largest i’ve seen so far, some with leaves almost as large as my thumb!

After we were done monitoring, we still had some time to explore, so here’s some of the stuff we found.

There were a number of Common Sea Stars (Archaster typicus) lounging around. A video of the tubular feet they use to ‘walk’ can be found at http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=378923208550

Joce and I were walking along when we came across a carpet anemone, and while we were taking photos of it when an anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis) popped out from below the anemone and decided to camwhore for us, so we gladly complied 😀

even got a video!

There was also a little Elbow Crab

you see it, right?

While we were taking photos of this guy, i suddenly noticed something lurking almost right next to it that we somehow missed!

Turns out it was a really special find, a Pentaceraster mammillatus, which was only recently (actually two years ago) discovered on our shores! The discovery was special as before its discovery, this star, locally fondly referred to as the darth vader star and the dark knobbly (i call this one baby blue :D), was only known to be found in the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, so its discovery indicates a significant increase in distribution range.

The star is named mammillatus after the rows of nipple like nodules on its body

Tubular feet!

The underside, not sure what that snail is doing there though o.o

Trying to right itself, oops. we should always try not to handle sea stars, and even if we do we should try to rest their bodies on the palm of the hand. this is because sea stars sometimes lose a limb on purpose in an effort to escape when they feel they are threatened, so we should never dangle them by their feet!

anyway this one happens to be quite teeny (about the length of Joce’s index finger) so it’s likely to be a juvenile!

It’s kinda exciting, cos apparently this is the first baby darth vader found at our shores!

Seagrass beds serve a vital function (among many vital functions) in the ecosystem by being a nursery for many forms of marine life. (they are also food for characteristic megafauna such as dugongs and sea turtles!)

There were lots of sea cukes too!

A Garlic Bread Sea Cucumber (Holothuria scabra)! tasty o.o

A Synaptid Sea Cucumber, not sure what sp. exactly though.

Black Long Sea Cucumber (Holothuria leucospilota) is found on most of our shores, but are more common in the southern shores.

And last but not least, who could forget the very stars Cyrene is famous for, the Knobblies!

Knobblies come in a whole variety of shapes and sizes, some are fatter and some have more colour! at cyrene they occur so frequently that these stars were all within meters (some less than a meter) apart from each other! truly amazing.

This guy was a little strange and unsymmetrical, a survivor of an attack perhaps?

after exploring, it was time to head back.. ):

we dinghy-ed back to the boat where we headed back to mainland with a steady supply of snacks and cookies.

Marcus’s cheapo slippers. Oh well, as long as it functions, brands don’t matter! (much)

But back at the marina, the trip hadn’t truly ended yet!

around the docks and pontoons were all sorts of life!

Jellyfish!

Lining the sides of the pontoons were these vertical reefs, growing everywhere along the sides! this photo was taken with my camera pointing vertically downward into the water. there were many colourful fish and even a filefish, and some of them were even swimming on their sides so it looked as if we were really underwater!

according to Ms Shufen, researchers are actually collaborating with the owners of marinas in order to create better environments for biodiversity so  they can actually use the marinas as a kind of rest stop before heading back out to sea, how interesting :O. apparently there was once even a sighting of a turtle here.

after all that, some of us took a ride in Ms Shufen’s cab to Harbourfront, and we were greeted by this

im not sure how many people actually think like me, but i actually like stepping out of my comfort zone. i like getting bitten by mosquitoes. i like sweating buckets. i like the smell of the soil and leaves. more people should be willing to do so.. leave the air-conditioned concrete boxes once in a while and go see the world!.. you don’t have to go too far (:

and now i have two badges (:

the badge on the right is to celebrate the 3rd year of Teamseagrass 😀

yep, i can’t wait to go back to cyrene again, but with A levels looming i doubt i’d have many more opportunities to go out (when i go out its almost always to nature areas so..) which means this blog will probably go on hiatus by june or so, but we’ll see bout that.

sentosa post is overdue, will post.. whenever i next have time XP