Thursday, July 19, 2007

Intertidals @ Tioman

Finally back from Tioman after a week of field studies at the intertidal zone which my group has chosen to do on. Thought I would just share with everyone a different intertidal life from Singapore.

The intertidal group hard at work

Some of the interesting crabbies we found:

Spider crab

There were many small swimming crabs around. These crabs are characterized by their paddle feet at their last pair of legs.

An exciting find by Ngan Kee, a sponge crab. These crabs have their last pair of legs bend upwards which are used to hold a piece of live sponge over them. The sponge will continue to grow and the crab will trim them to fit nicely for cover.

Red eyed reef crab

A porcelain crab. These crabs are more closely related to hermit crabs than the true crabs, they have only 3 pairs of legs (1 pair not visible in this photo). Update >> Will be more correct to say they only have 3 pairs of walking legs, as apparently porcelain crabs have their last pair of legs hidden under the carapace.

A pregnant xanthid crab holding its eggs using her abdomen. This is why female crabs have a wider abdomen.

A view of coral life visible from low tide.

Besides crabs, there were also an abundance of snapping shrimps, long-clawed shrimps and many other prawns around, many which were too small to take a photo.

And now for some fascinating molluscs:
Ngan Kee found a two cone shells and they are alive! Finally had the chance to see one! Cones are famous for their venomous harpoon, a modified radula used to stun their prey. The venom can be fatal even to humans and there is no anti-venom

We brought back the cone to present to other students later, giving me the chance to take some macro picts to see if I can zoom in on the harpoon. Pity though, cant seem to locate it.

I was particularly excited about the number of cowries we saw, especially the bigger ones. This unknown cowrie (left) is about 10cm long. Cyroea arabica, about the same size as the other one.

Possibly a wandering cowrie

Here we can see the mantle of the cowrie covering its outer surface of the shell, making the shell having a smooth and glossy appearance.

The same cowrie (left), with its shell exposed. Another different cowrie possibly a Cypraea annulus (right).

We also found about 2 species of nudibranchs... Possibly a Discodoris lilacina on the right.

Spider conch. Lat shared with us this urban legend that each spine of the shell actually points to another spider conch.

Here was our guardian angel, a white cat which followed us throughout the entire transect. Before this, there was this guy who claims that he is researching on cats in predicting tsunami and warns us that there might be one approaching. We are doubtful of it and still carried on our transect but still, glad of the cat's accompany; just in case.

And there were the flatworms, also saw them alot of times~

and the long ribbonworms...

Giant clam with its symbiotic algae at the mantle

The Echinoderms

The most diverse invertebrate we saw were the sea cucumbers. About 7 morpho species found.

Holothuria hilla, the most abundant cucumber here. Almost every tide pool contains one.

Holothuria atra or lolly fish sea cucumber. Interestingly, it covers its dorsal surface with sand leaving only 2 longitudinal rows of circles of black.

Bohadschia marmorata. This is a sensitive species that eviscerates almost immediately when disturbed. I'm the guilty one responsible for accidentally stepping on the one above... A negative demonstration of cos.

Another unidentified cucumber.

There were many sea urchins at the far end of the reef flat which we saw while snorkelling. Diadema sp (left). Another different species with shorter spines.

Cute little starfishes found all over the rocks at the northern side of the Paya beach shore



Scorpionfish lying calmly in the sandy while all of us were taking shots at it.

Look at all these colorful reef fishes!

Spotted this wasp hive while strolling alone at the beach

Lastly was this "X-ray" pict of a dead mosy killed by Kaiyuan. We were tramatized by them every night and had to cover every part of our body to prevent being bitten.

In all, a pretty rewarding trip, but regrettably we had no time to venture into the freshwater stream and forest. Diving wasn't that much fun for the amount of money I paid. But had my first experience in night snorkelling, which was pretty exciting, seeing a large porcupinefish and stingray.

Thanx Ron, for the various IDs and corrections =)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Snail fest

Came across this interesting sight near hougang mall, beside some shrubs. Is somebody feeding these Giant african snails (Achatina fulica)? lol...

Snail fest

Originating from East Africa, this is one of the most widespread alien species, winning its spot in the 100 world's worst invasive aliens species by ISSG.

Apologises for not digging up more info on this but have to go slp nw. Will be staying in school tml for the tioman trip the day after. CYa in a week's time!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A lazy Sunday afternoon

Was feeling pretty bored staying at home so thought of just do a short biking trip around the vicinity. Thought of going to recee the part where TPE intercepts Sungei Serangoon. Anyway, am on leave from army this weekend =)

Wasn't a good day to start, with dark clouds gathering nearby.

A drift net placed over a bridge...

Was riding along TPE when these 2 fellows caught my eye. Thanx to Shun deng, these are probably two male white-headed munia. They feed on grass seeds as seen above.

Hard to get a good picture with all those grass blades blocking. grr...

Gloomy skies... This bald tree has several birds roosting on it.

Yupz, they are pigeons.

Lastly, saw this bird hovering in the sky near me, probably battling with the strong wind. Did not had a clear view of it but it was pretty big, prob a raptor. Anyone can ID with just this picture? Alas, it flew off just as I took out my camera to get a decent picture.

Was forced to turn back before I found sungei serangoon as raindrops fall. Will be back the next occasion, which will prob be 2 weeks later. A short trip, but nevertheless, as long as I learn a new ID each trip, I be happy lao =)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Monitor feeding

Heres some pictures of the Malayan water monitor feeding on a fish it caught. Taken during today's guiding trip @ Sungei Buloh. Turned out to be a nice trip today, cos we were more prepared compared to our BT nightmare field trip =) Enjoy! Go pack my stuff for army lao~~

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Beautiful Sungei Buloh

This is the recee for our 2nd field trip to another nature reserve, Sungei Buloh wetlands. This time we were told that we had to plan our route beforehand, which makes it even more impt for this trip. Why is our group so stringent? =.= (grumbles~)

Anyway it turns out to be a rather nice trip (with Shun De as our guide this time), with lotsa photo taking opportunities. We started off at the main bridge while waiting for the rest to arrive. Shun De was lucky to spot some smooth otters at there. He told us it was quite a rare sight to see them. Sux, I think I just missed them like a minute back.


There were many archer fishes right at the bottom of the bridge. They are well known for their ability to spit out a strong jet of water (2-3m) to hit their prey down the water. This is done by forcefully snapping shut their gills and with their tongue and mouth forming a tube. However, aside this ability, they actually preferred to leap up out of the water to catch their prey. They can jump quite high, up to 30cm!


There are 2 closely resembling fishes here, the halfbeaks and the needlefish. Shun De told us how to differentiate them, this species of halfbeaks has a yellow snout tip and swim together in schools while the needlefish is much larger and usually solitary. The reason for their name "halfbeak" is due to their upper jaw is much shorter then the lower jaw. There is no difference in their jaw size of the needlefish. Shun deng shared with me that they are actually kinda related, with the needlefish juvenile having a halfbeak stage.

Little Heron

Herons and egrets have long necks and bills that are used to deliver a powerful thrust at unsuspecting prey. Yes, even for the little heron has an amazing long neck for its size, just that it is coiled up at rest. Btw nice picture hor? Haha, one of my first few shots at a bird just a long zoom of my new camera.

Just above us, were many swifts gliding effortlessly in the sky, catching and eating on flying insects. An unrelated but having similar feeding method is the swallow, and they can be differentiated with the swifts having fan shaped tails and swallows of a V-shaped forked tail.

The sea hibiscus is actually closely related to our land hibiscus, both of the same genus. They secrete sugary fluid through their leaves and this normally attract weaver ants to nestle there and protect the plant. The beautiful cotton stainer bugs also like to come to this plant to feed on its seeds.

Possibly a tree climbing or vingear crab. Why vinegar? Becos it was said that people like to add black sauce and vinegar to the crab and take it with porridge.

Sea holly infloresence. The sea holly is used by the traditional malays to ward off Pontianak, a female vampire that preys on pregnant woman and their fetus.

Possibly a malayan tree frog as suggested by Robert. It has suction toes to help it attach to leaves. Robert said that he had never seen this frog before here, which is rather interesting. Perhaps it was here all along just that no one has spotted it before?

The largest mudskipper in the world! The Giant mudskipper is something Singaporeans can be proud of, not some weird UFO or durian building at city hall ><

A bug on the Singapore Rhododendron. The young shoots are used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure diarrhea, the famous bao ji wan.

Blue grassy tiger, one of the easiest butterflies to photograph as the butterfly enthusiast July told me. I guess its becos it kept opening its wings? (FYI, butterflies close their wings at rest)

Sorry, actually got more stuff was intending but was too tired and sian by now. Sorry ar for my fanz, will cover the rest when I come to this nice place again. hehe.... Lastly, Thanx Shun deng, ur an excellent guide!

Will be going back army this thurs and straight after that to Tioman for my field trip! No updates for 2 weeks till I'm back, cya!

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